During a video call, conversations have a transition time between speakers of approximately 200 milliseconds. Because this is fast, the listener has to understand the speaker, plan his response, and predict when he can intervene, simultaneously.
Consequently, the frustration and mental exhaustion that follow an online conversation may, in part, be related to trying to pick up subtle cues during conversations through Zoom and other platforms, versus internet wait times, according to a new University of Michigan study.
Brain waves can automate part of this problem. Nevertheless, variable electronic transmission delays in video conferencing are likely enough to destabilize these waves. As observed in previous studies, in two hours of consecutive meetings the average activity of beta waves (those related to stress) increased over time. In other words, the stress continued to rise.
Julie Boland, a professor of psychology and linguistics, and her colleagues have found evidence of this destabilization in longer shift start times on Zoom.
The Zoom support pages suggest that transmission delays below 150 milliseconds (less than 1/5 of a second) should lead to a completely satisfying experience without any noticeable lag. Boland’s study focuses on considerably shorter delays, well below this level, ranging from approximately 30 to 70 milliseconds.
Thus, video conferencing, as many have learned during the pandemic, can be less enjoyable and make speakers more uncomfortable.
Boland notes that she has been fascinated by speech processing efficiency for several years. The impact of Zoom’s calls, which seemed to undermine the pace and grace of the interactions, piqued her interest. for better understanding how the brain and speech were affected with the present study.