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Sept. 10, 2021

E218 - What cognitive abilities improve as we age?

Recorded live on September 9th, 2021, hosted by Nick Roome & Blake Arnsdorff.

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| Recorded live on September 9th, 2021, hosted by Nick Roome & Blake Arnsdorff.

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Welcome to human factors yeah your weekly podcast for human factors psychology and design. Hey what's going on everybody it is episode 218 we're recording this live on 9/9/2021 and this is human factors Qassam host Nick Rome I'm joined today by Mr Blake on store. How you doing Hey man I am good we got a great show for you all tonight we'll be talking about what happens to us when we age but first we got some programming notes here in a little community update if you will Hey at where we're going to neuro economics conference next week that September 11 through the sixteenth we've been invited and we've actually got a couple of what what do you wanna come take it somewhere admissions to give away on the show tonight you'll have coverage from that event will be there and so will a couple of you and we want to let you all know who those winners are right now. So the winners have been notified via email but we have Kirsten M. from the United States we have the any from the any are from Singapore and then we also have bow deep from the Netherlands so we have a worldwide we have people all over the world when he's giveaways so I mean some winners that's amazing yeah it's it's pretty awesome so congratulations to our winners were excited to see you all there and for the rest of you who aren't able to go like I said we'll have coverage from that event and there's some pretty cool keynotes and presentations that I'm looking forward to so you know we'll we'll try to have that coverage for yeah. Also if you're unaware if you like the conference coverage we did put out some conference covers this weekend from U. X. PA when I sat down with Christy Harper from an end user research we actually sat down and talked about you X. P. A. international so that is out there for your ear holes now. Please go listen to it and one more little programming note here are humanoid robots deep dive is live now so you can go check that out it's great companion piece to last week's episode where we talk about the Tesla bots. But we know what you are all here you are here for human factors news so let's go ahead and get into the thing. That's right this is the part of your overall about human factors news research all over the internet we look for the news stories. I pick and choose then the patrons pick and choose and then it comes to you this week you know Blake we're talking a lot about what happens when we age everyone kind of wonders about while getting older what happens when we H. Blake what what's this new story this week it might surprise you Nick so it's been a long believe that advanced advancing age leads to your broad declines our mental abilities but now new research from the university of Georgetown Medical Center offers surprisingly good news by countering this view so the findings in nature human behaviour published earlier this year show that 2 key brain functions which allow us to attend to new information and to focus on what's in a given situation can't fact improve in older individuals. These functions underlie our critical aspects of Cup cognition such as memory decision making self control navigation our ability to do maths to talk and even reading and a quote from some of the authors so people widely believed and assume that attention executive functions decline with age and despite intriguing hints from some of the smaller scale studies that raise questions about these assumptions the results from large scale studies done by this group have indicated that critical elements of abilities can be improved during aging likely because we simply get practice with these skills around our entire span of life so Nick this is kind of insane for 2 reasons so I feel like this the one of the first times that we talk about aging on the show which we know is a big human factors topic but also this is one of those paradigm shifting moments that science can so often provide where it's like well maybe some cognitive abilities decline but not everything so I don't know what do you think man yes great point so really quick before I give my thoughts I would get in the social parts here so we asked you all tonight stories about aging how some key abilities may actually improve as we age our question to you what should we require cognitive tests as we age for risky activities so things like driving a car or operating heavy machinery. And then we also ask you to comment with what you think are the most essential cognitive skills we should have as we age so we got some answers from you all will will be able to S. sprinkle those throughout I do want to just start with the the poll here we ask the poll question which was the you know should we require cognitive tests as we age for risky activities overwhelmingly yes in fact it was 100 percent yes on Twitter it was 100 percent yes on Instagram so. You know take that as you well we need we need more testing for older individuals and is it a matter of trust I don't know we'll get into it and we'll talk about some of these aging effects and whether or not it it truly they truly should be tested on on certain things right so I'm getting into my reaction to the article. I I was surprised you know I I look at this ad you know and I think a lot of people are surprised because if you think about cognitive decline in elderly individuals and it's it's sad a lot of the times when you can see the the gear slowing down from the outside and you know there's we we understand there's a lot of different aspects that go into cognitive function I will break some of those down here. I'm kind of which ones decline which ones don't or you know which ones improve according to this study. But yeah it's it's sad to watch that from the outside and. I guess my my initial reaction was this is good because like you said as a paradigm shift right if we if we can think about aging differently if we can start to. Cater to these. These types of functions they were gonna talk about just a moment then perhaps we may be able to prolong the cognitive decline it will happen over many more years rather than a a rapid decline that you see so many times public I'm interested what's what's your reaction to this so one thing that I feel like I've listened to a lot over the past probably 2 to 5 years is a lot about aging science and what we can do to you know prepare cells for aging or in impacted in kind of changed the course that we end up going down whether it's cognitive decline having your more physical readiness like for longer in life for whatever it may be from various people like Dr Peter T. R. Dr abi to gray really looking at science of how people age and what can be do done to kind of mitigated and prolong life I guess but this is interesting because it actually shows that even without some of those mitigation strategies that are kind of being developed like new science if you will that may not be accessible to everybody it looks like some to some degree the human brain looks as if it's able to handle aging for certain functions so although we know we get a little bit of cognitive decline in certain areas it is awesome to see that we actually can improve in in our age and we also may not even you know see a giant declined in every area of cognition. So I think it's awesome article and I'm glad that the the key point I solved the blurb in this article is that really this was picked up from a trend of smaller studies and like it was only because like certain scientists across a couple of different universities were really interested in this idea they were seeing and really small sample sizes that we can actually get some aspects of cognition to stay baseline or increase that we are able to see this large scale study come from Georgetown so I don't know just awesome all around really yeah we'll get into exactly what declined and what's stayed the same but I do want to kind of take a survey of what you know what cognitive functions have been found in previous literature right so we have 2 articles here that we're willing him in the show notes here but we have Harada at all which is 2013 paper so it's a little older but still provides a pretty good overview. Of you know the different mental functions and and what stays what declines in when and those are mostly echoed by Korea I have a car rare react correctly at all that's a 2018 and then we'll get into I think. You know this study and and talk about what changes right so just generally I think we we talk about. Intelligencer cognitive function this is taking you back to the. Cog psych one a wine or what you know crystallized versus fluid intelligence right so you have this crystallized intelligence which is something like skills ability knowledge. It is learned practiced in familiar. And you have this fluid cognition which is a person's sort of ability to process and learn new information solve problems and attend to and manipulate one 's environment right so these are these are key concepts that bike I don't know Blake you mentioned before the show you haven't revisited these and since your school and myself neither right so the good refresher for us but we have several different kind of cognitive abilities if you will things like processing speed attention so I figure you know we go break these down and then. We talk about how they change right so. And and like jump in here if you have anything to add but we'll start with processing speed right so processing speed begins to decline in the third decade of life and continues throughout the lifespan. You know attention you have a more noticeable age affected seen on more complex attention tasks such as selective and divided attention. The older adults are performing worse than younger adults on tasks involving working memory which I think might be something there that a lot of us maybe can't relate to if we've had grandparents are we've experienced kind of baby car to collide where you've got you know I don't know about you but I remember my grandmother she had great attention to detail and memory for things to happen long time ago but it started like in the working memory things like day to day tasks and stuff like that forgetting what she was doing or whatever it means I mean that kind of follows suit with what we know from the broader literature of attention and how it impacts aging yeah let's talk about memory. So you know as a group older adults do not perform as well as younger adults on a variety of learning and memory tests. You know you have declarative and non declarative memory right were declared it is like this explicit memory recollection of facts events and then you have. We have not declared of which is you know kind of outside of a person's awareness there. Thinking about like how to sing a song or. You know procedural memory where you know you're you're looking for motor and cognitive skills so it's not the fact that you're reciting but it's more like muscle memory. And if you if you think about memory and aging there's there's a couple things that happened here it's it there's a whole table and this is from the Harada at all paper so you have just things out we'll we'll go over things the decline with age and then we'll talk about things that remain stable with age so. You know as as you age you have sort of this deal delayed free recall so you're unable to record that spontaneously recall that information. Without a Q.. You also have you know source memory so and knowing the source of a learned information right so remember if you heard this fact from I had I not fresh in my mind so like a. The good news Max or or if it's from like a scientific journal. Thanks a lot of sense to your right source memory you're especially now would be it'll be interesting to see what what it's like when you retire old if we were able to participate in these studies because of the amount of information now is so insane and the amount that is coming out of like your your phone in various mediums like try to remember source of anything can be just super if possible at this stage so I would imagine this gets exacerbated as time goes on for you know future studies and things like that. Yeah and then the last one here the declines with age is the prospect of memory so remembering to perform intended actions in the future right so forgetting like take medicine before you go to bed which is actually a huge problem in the healthcare field that's like how do you communicate directions to aging individuals who may have a harder time remembering some of these things so let's talk about you know the some of the things that remain stable with age right so you have recognition memory you're able to you know river we're talk about recognition versus recall in this instance and so it's going to be easier to recognize something you know you see an object that you haven't seen in years and all the memories come flooding back about something that you are able to recognize that doesn't decline with age. You know the eat I always think of the example in cocoa. Where where grandma coco sees the picture of her dad and she goes pop rock and if you want a good cry watch coco because man I'm just getting teary eyed thinking about it. I'm a cocoa are anyway what with it. All right so then we have temporal order memories this is thinking of things of like you know how how do things happen over time correct sequence of events those type of thing right so like remembering last Saturday that you went to a grocery store after able to. After you went and ate lunch with your friends that type of thing. That remain stable with age and then the last one here procedural memory said this is how to you know how to do things how to ride a bike so that's kind of an interesting table of how memory can check. In decline or remain stable with age and then. Yeah we have a couple other again we're still Marada at all paper here they go over language visual spatial abilities and construction and executive functioning let's talk about those. Language ability remains intact with aging. Just overall. For visual spatial abilities and construction so this is like the ability to put together individual parts to make a coherent whole so like you know assembling ikea furniture. You know that that declines over time and then you this is kind of interesting because this is almost a little bit contrary to what the paper that we are talking of Georgetown finds in some ways well that's why we're talking about this first like that's why we're talking about the first half and then not the last one here executive functioning so you know. Things like concept formation abstraction mental flexibility those things decline with age especially after age 70 so I think that was a good recap of the Harada at all or anything else from that that you'd like to. Talk about their Blake no I mean this seems seems probably to go along with a lot of the normative. Stereo types we are managing that come with aging I mean a little bit more obviously if you're familiar with psychology or if you have a psych background. But this seems all kind of steady state normal what you would expect which will find a little bit more about later as we go back to the original pay or the new paper for the evening. Yeah let's let's get into a social by here so again the question was should we are sorry the question was what do you think are essential cognitive skills as we age we have anonymous from Instagram has to be made remain anonymous this is being aware of our surroundings so this is something that they thought was critical to aging. You know the the folks who it is that it's sad that the people who have dementia who don't know where they are some I'm guessing that's what they're talking about here. And then we have one more from Instagram that will read right now so this is from Erica Marie this is our our graphic artist he's the one who made the logo so this is conceptual processing speed. So how quickly it takes to understand a new or novel idea so she thinks that one is kind of the most important thing as we age will get more social thoughts in just a moment. But I do wanna talk briefly about this other paper here that we have the court Carrera at all to 2018 they echo a lot of the same things that was found in the 2013 articles a little bit more recent you know and so we wanted to bring that up I think there's there's kind of 1. Point that the other article mentions you know decreased cognitive processing speed as widely accepted finding and usually related to the changes in the brain the white matter that that take place in the aging process so I think that's kind of thing we want to highlight with that one. I'm. Now why don't we get into this one Blake you wanna break down the the different that's what I'm looking for components here they studied. Yes Sir for the original study they really focused on 3 main components of cognition and so they're really focusing on what how your brain kind of process of information and multiple different levels focusing first on alerting orienting yourself to the world and then just what they call executive in addition or executive function being able to calm down those different ideas so what I'll do is I'm actually gonna break apart those 3 it just we have some good operational definitions to walk through as we go through the rest of the kind of concepts of what they found overall so we talk about alerting we're really trying to characterize this as a state of enhanced vigilance and being prepared in order to respond to incoming information so being able react to stuff in your environment such as like when we're driving another one at that is focused on orienting so this really involves shifting your attention to different resources in terms of spatial location so really being able to understand your surroundings interpret them correctly and kind of interact with your surroundings in a way that you know meaningful for you and the last one which is really focused on executive function so they use this in the terms of the executive network so inductive network inhibits distracting or conflict information allowing us to focus on one what's important so you can imagine being in a crowded room being able to focus on somebody that you're having a conversation with them to doubt the noise around you and really kind of hone in on whatever is being said. So those are our main key components that we're looking at in terms of understanding how in aging populations. Our people process information so high level deck the study is really big main takeaway is that only a learning so going back to how how we're able to deal with new information and being prepared to react to it that's a space that really we see a decline with age and however in terms of orienting or executive in addition we can see either of them staying at baseline or even being able to be improved as we age which is kind of a an interesting set of findings there so we want to give our thoughts on the overall thesis or what they've got going on to win it want to kind of keep going through yeah I mean let's give our overall thoughts right like I I to me orienting was a little surprising especially you know given the example that I just gave right if you have somebody with dementia who doesn't know where they are what's going on that's what I think of when I think of like lost old people I'm sorry what aging populations and so like you know it's. It was surprising to me. And I think the. The finding about you know being able to inhibit distracting information. Is is interesting as well because you know when you when I think about aging populations I think about maybe hard of hearing and that's that's biological things going on inside their ears you know and so to me the fact that they either remain the same or even improve their ability to cut through the noise and to focus in on something is. It's interesting to me I what what are your kind overall thoughts on this. The the the the whole thing about orienting and then executive function or being able to basically inhibit things and focus and on details I think for those 2 I am very surprised that they can even improve with aging because of things you just said but I think maybe the important part to think about here in terms of like studying this is All Things Considered normal outside of like having you know some kind of neuro degenerative disease or having any kind of biological effects of potential aging like hearing loss and things like that. The the orienting does surprise me because maybe maybe because I'm biased because my own spatial abilities are very bad and it's it so it just surprises me the executive function thing I think that that's one of these areas and they they talk a little bit about this in the paper of the ability to basically practice something continually and it build like a skill over time I feel like a lot of times we're we're forced to do that in various capacities whether it was at school or you know working in a noisy environment or whatever it may be so although like like you said some biological markers may make it harder make make it for harder for people to hear the focal attention is still probably pretty good because we had a lot of practice with doing that alerting in some ways doesn't surprise me now that we've gone through those other papers kind of like bots and they broke down all those pieces because really it's like this new brand new incoming information that could be novel that what I have to figure out I understand and then all the sudden react to in some cases. So that when I guess it makes some intuitive sense that it would decline with age because it's there's a lot of different variables that you have to potentially figure out and then react to. But overall it's it's still interesting that you can see that not everything is cognitively declining just because you get a little bit older yeah I wanna get into alerting really quick here because I mean if you think about it. Aging populations have been around for a while so they've experienced novel things time and time again however as you age you experience less and less novel things as time goes on and so I'm wondering if it's like a muscle that you have to work to react to new things and because they're they've seen so much by that point in their life that you know they're not exercising that muscle as much and so they can't sort of. I understand what's going on right we'll get into what the researchers think here's the reason I do want to get into another social thought here. Let's see here this is actually from our our buddy berry Kirby whose actually one of the latest members of the digital media lab if you're interested we we have that link on our website berry writes the ability for dynamic decision making must be key and that research indicates that a learning is negatively impacted but is this where automation can help especially in more rural suburban areas where vehicles are more of a necessity than a luxury so this is in respect to the risky activities and decision making cognitive skills so I don't think what you think do you think automation can help with some of these you know declining mental abilities as you age. I think you can help I don't know that it's gonna help us overcome some of the issues like you know losing attentional like alerting our capability to react to a learning because if you think about it like if we're you know off loading things automation more and more earlier and earlier in life we may not be experiencing as many kind of novel things like Alice but I definitely think it makes a lot of sense to try and go ahead and start thinking about what technology solutions we can start putting in place if we understand a lot of the variables of what aging looks like how it affects cognition and what can be done from you know an automation standpoint or a supplementary standpoint like PC eyes when you're older I can imagine almost I don't know this feels signed science fiction and futuristic but down the line being able to use a BC I to help you kind of you know give yourself more ram if you will for off loading things or whatever it may be or even reminding things that you need to do right but yeah so that's a great fight and I think dynamic decision making is one of those key areas that you want to kind of have facility of throughout your entire life yeah I'm gonna read one more social thought this one comes from or twitch Kristen and twitch do you think the tech boom influence younger people's ability to focus attention and that's why the aging population is better. Blake what your thoughts on on the tech boom influencing other people's ability to focus attention I definitely think it's going to play a big role that was something I was alluding to a little bit earlier like what it's going to be like for you and I we hit this age and how it's going to impact our ability to you know still B. as it see these kind of cognitive benefits I think we're going to see them in a different way but I I still think that alerting is still to be an issue because of brand new stimuli although you could argue that we do you expose ourselves to a lot of potentially novel things all the time and turned from an information perspective but yeah I think it's gonna have a big impact on our ability to hold attention for long periods of time which may impact these other 2 things we're seeing positive growth and in a different fashion how bout you Nick I mean do you think that our interaction with technology are are over saturation with technology really is going to impact our potential ability is our cognition were old I think so but I I think it's going to have the opposite effect I think it's it's actually going to worsen aren't attentive abilities if only because things are designed be it content or otherwise usability even. To get everything very quickly and so you know there's this attention. These these short attention span things need like everything designed for short attention span which you know it in in usability or content wise it's. It makes sense right you wanna catch everybody's attention to get across the point very quickly because everyone's time is valuable I think that over time will have some large effect on our ability to. You know process distracting conflicting information or you know focus on what's important if only because one it were worst kind of seeing this that there's so much information out there some of its factual some of it is not and people are picking and choosing what they consume and so you know if you start from a bad place with you know bad information then how do you. How do you parse through that information discern what's correct you know it's it's you're living in your own reality at that point I don't know and then you know orienting I think that might actually strengthen with the short attention span thing that's that's kind of my thoughts on the whole technology influencing our our attention focus. I don't know it it's it's an interesting question. And right for researchers to to figure out over time right. Do we do we want to get into the why I wanna get into the Y. gonna break it down for us Blake why is why yeah. So just said reiterate so researchers found that we're seeing a decline in alerting understanding but worth seeing potentially an increase in both orienting and decorative innovation so why are we seeing this will researchers hypothesize based on the studies they had conducted the because orienting and inhibition or simply skills that allow people to selectively attend to objects these skills can improve with lifelong practice which is kind of intuitive in some ways right you get very familiar with doing a specific thing you can focus attention to it over longer periods of time you know being an entire lifetime so those skills are kind of it's always very very strong. But in the contrast with alerting like naked kind of alluded to. Alerting declines and a lot of ways because this basic state of vigilance preparedness we really can't practice that a whole lot of it the I think there's a very small people small amount of people that actually ever practice you know dealing with the learning situations Cobb seals come to mind is the only population I can think of that would be practicing with that kind of stuff or going through you know specific different in training related to specifically just different situations alerts but that's that's kind of a day again in line with the ability the thing that you can whatever you can practice in real life or do you consistently over and over makes sense that you would be able to maybe be able to pay attention to that as long as you don't have Neeraj degenerative diseases or any kind of extra things going on many good strength and that's your life depending on how often you're doing these things are learning new stuff. Yeah I think it it makes sense when you when you think about the practice that we get from some of these other things and and when you break it down you're you're right we're not doing a whole lot of that alerting or you know vigilance preparedness to respond to incoming information all the time. I think. It makes sense to me like you said you know we're we're not practicing that type of information and so that the practice makes perfect and in fact can improve. Especially if you keep practicing this and I I do want to bring up a question from Katie in our discord. It sounds like they're making the case that we might actually be able to mitigate some of these cognitive decline from aging by practicing certain cognitive skills more which is interesting considering there's so much research showing cognitive decline is inevitable but could also be integrated into games or other tools for older adults some way to practice cognitive skills that seem influenced by practice what do you think Blake is there a way to incorporate this type of thing into. Tools used for the aging populations. So I think it I think Katie brings up a really good point and to make it a little bit more complicated I think it's a multi very a problem like it's not just going to be related to your what cognitive things can we do I think there's a lot about understanding brain health and understanding you know personal biology that's going to play into it over time there's plenty of research about you know impacts of supplementation or various you know different styles of diet or what you do in your physical life they can impact your brain health as well and then on top of that it depends on how much you're actually putting in you know effort cognitively but one thing that came to mind from the alerting perspective why you were talking is a wonder of people that do play video games they are often you end up in situations that you can't really predict. If that could have any positive benefit to the alerting you know retention if you well but I do think there's got to be a ways like Katie's alluding to to you know build either games or activities you can do as a group they continue to strengthen these different skills expressly the ones that we know as of right now you can have so improved improvement and for sure yeah and and you brought up a great point like how does how do self identified gamers. You know how how are they impacted by this right because you are responding to novel situations in a lot of times in those games that become sort of practiced situations over time but I do want to mention Barry also wrote back to Katie on this a lot of elderly particularly those with dementia are encouraged to do said okay who's which does fit with that finding and that it's a specific set of cognitive skills for that type of puzzle so it is being recommended for you know aging populations who are experiencing certain sort of looking for elections. So it be interesting to see how that changes over time any other closing thoughts on this one Blake I know we we gotta get out of here on to the next part of the show. Yeah so one thing I do want to rap with this kind of like the so what factor this whole research center research so from the research perspectives the findings really not only change the the general view about how aging affects your mind but also could lead to clinical improvements including for patients that have aging disorders like Alzheimer's if you can catch things early on but developed like personalized programs depending on somebody's brain health early in life you may be able to either mitigate or potentially in the future void some of these narrow degenerative disease we see today. Great save I almost forgot that part all right well huge thank you to our patrons this week for selecting our topic and thank you to our friends over at Georgetown University Medical Center for our news story this week if you wanna follow along during office hours every Monday nights where I find these new stories we do post the links to our original articles in our weekly round ups on our blog also join us on slack or discord for more discussion on the stories we'll take a quick break and we'll be back to see what's going on in human factors community right after this human factors cast brings you the best in human factors news interviews conference coverage and overall fun conversations into each and every episode we produce but we can't do it without you. The human factors cast network is 100 percent listener supported all the funds are going to running the show come from our listeners our patrons are our priority and we want to ensure we're giving back to you for supporting us pledges start at just $1 per month and include rewards like access to our weekly Q. and A.'s with the hosts personalized professional reviews and human factors minute patriotic only weekly podcast where the host breakdown unique obscure and interesting human factors topics in just one minute patron rewards are always evolving so stop by Petri slash human factors cast to see what support level may be right for you thank you and remember it depends. Yes huge thank you as always to our patrons especially our honorary human factors cath hat human factors cast staff. Adrian Michelle Tripp patrons like you keep the show running thank you all so much for your continued support rex again here from a shell in just a minute if you are become a patron you can do that there's a lot of ways that you can support the show there's a what is it the $1 tier which gives you access to things like. Mmhm all all of our content except for human factors Bennett and then there's you know the next tier over which is a human factors engineer. Anyway we are going to get into this next part of the show we like to call. That's right it came from this week we got a little bit of everything got some from our patrons we got some from our. Discord and we got some from mom from from the good all right it's Sir we look all over the community to bring you topics that you all are talking about you know what if these answers are helpful to you give us a like on whatever platform you're on right now I help other people find this content sort of read this first one here from one of our patrons Michelle Tripp says hi all my question is about remote you X. research the pandemic has definitely caused an increase in remote you X. research and testing for both of your experiences what struggles trials and errors if you had if any or successes with remote testing and research is remote research something that you already had experience with before the pandemic started thanks for all the hard work you both do for at HFC Machel. Thanks Michelle that's really kind of you Blake have you done remote research before the pandemic and then have you done it during the pandemic I definitely I'd never done before pre pandemic. Pandemic a course like a lot of people kind of forced your hand in some ways. But yeah so definitely a lot of lessons learned on all sides of the house in terms of kind of trials and errors are like the biggest problems though one of the hardest things that I had a specially in my previous job was technology problems like literally if somebody was not in you know not at home using their own equipment and due to kind of work circumstances they may not be able to share their screen they may not be able to see the video or they may not even be able to you know see a briefer presentation they're trying to show some kind of having to buffer and plan for all of those things being ready for tech not to working you have to do usability testing on the phone or you have to walk somebody through a design concept without you know them maybe even being able to see the design. There's just a lot of weird things that you have to kind of account for and sometimes you just end up rescheduling that kind of stuff but one thing that really really helped me he was you know use it end up there I'm not trying to plug a specific product I've used a lot of different design tools but one thing that helped me a lot wiser W. X. D.. Because he gave me the capability to send links to my designs that people could interact with on their own machine I don't have to rely on you know hosting it somewhere or like sending it through different means it was like just a link you click it could use it and that would allow us to walk through designs and maybe we wouldn't get that capability to record somebody's face or whatever but we could you know have them go through tasks and things like that so for me as a designer that really was an invaluable tool. In terms of like really successful moments one awesome the there's one awesome kind of side effect of the pandemic for me as I got more access to end users that I'd ever had before in my previous position just because it was they had they would either be home so they would be able to you know access you know whatever we were doing from their own laptop through Microsoft teams or whatever it may be that we're using and that also gave us the capability to talk a lot more often so we just gave a lot of different user engagement throughout but Nick M. correct me if I'm wrong you've done a lot of remote user testing at this point right yet so yeah let me start before the pandemic because that's part of the question I did have experience with this pre pandemic however very tricky situation because I had. The ID users that were a very specialized population so there weren't very many of them like we're talking maybe hundreds in the world. And so you can't really get to them that easily they were also operating in spaces where technology was not allowed outside technology was not allowed so you couldn't email them something very easily without having to go through 1000000 different things. And if you know the technology had to be vetted before it was able to be in to be able to be entered into that space. And they operate in those spaces all day so you know asking them to do it outside that space. Would be kind of unreasonable because once they're out of that space they're off the clock. So one way in which we did remote user testing as we had to find a tool that was able to get vetted past all these I had to go through 1000000 different checks before it went out lots of challenges with it. I think like you Blake once the pandemic happened the door kind of blew wide open on being able to access people because everyone is at home there's no longer all these checks that need to happen before it goes into a secure space I will say you know when we talk about my experience during the pandemic of usability testing there's going to be a difference between complete systems and systems that are under development and I think that's what you were talking to Blake was the ability to interact with people who need to be able to see in progress designs or be able to interact with interactive prototypes or anything like that. So it's not like you had some success with adobe X. D. in that regard I was fortunate enough to have a system that existed but needed testing and so you know they were just operating off of a website that's that's out there now and so in that regard that was a huge win for me because I didn't have to like set up anything on the scenes I will say. We use the Microsoft Office suite and so it was a lot of setting up the. You know that Microsoft teams making it available to anyone and then we're also dealing with an aging population who's not so savvy with computers and so it might be a little trick here to have them go through all the steps so you had to carefully write out the steps for everyone ahead of time so that way they knew exactly what they do you click on this button then you click on this button because if you don't click on this button you'll be waiting in a lobby that's not quite the lobby you will be able to see us we will be able to see you here's my contact info if you have any issues if you don't see us within you know a couple seconds of this timestamp and let us know so there's a lot of things that needed to happen. And a lot of things that could go wrong that fortunately didn't because I took a lot of those precautions to like outline every step that they needed to take ahead of time. I mean you know so that's that's kind of one. Trial and error successes were that we were able to capture more than I thought we would you know we would ask them for permission to record their screen in their face a lot of them were willing do you know which is weird considering you know you're on this like new new frontier of pandemic living where you know everyone sees your face all the time and somewhere weird about it and that's okay we can get their data but. You know I think I think largely it's been a success and I think this will blow the door wide open for future usability tests you know across the across the world being able to access things remotely from your home is huge so I don't know any other thoughts on that one like. I think what the other kind of aspect of this that was really important for me it was kind of like setting expectations with your team on kind of process sees the you should go through to you know pre pre doing any kind of testing so you know testing it out with each other in your own kind of spaces because we were afforded that we could we could test out what it's like to try to do a usability test when we're all in separate spaces were using teams in our case or whatever it may be also trying to plan ahead of time to send out any kind of material that you can that was the biggest winner for all of my experiences because it was like people could most people because they were at home now they were reading the materials unlike any of the in person things that I was ever doing so they were asking questions via email and sometimes that would help us catch you know maybe some potential technology mistakes that might happen or whatever. And the last bit like get as you're comfortable depending on who these people are 8. Try and give them as many options for getting in contact with you should something go wrong like beat your phone number like a bunch of different email addresses that you always have open or whatever it may be or if teams chat just so you you have the best shot if something does happen you'll still get them in the door get data from them and have them kind of work with whatever product you're using yeah great point thank you for the question Michele this next one is gonna be a little different from some of the other questions that we got we got in our discord and I thought this was an interesting one. Blake I hope you're well versed on on standards Hey this one from David in our discord Hey quick question are there any standards on the brightness of LED status indicators. Hello my goodness there has to be so many but knowing which ones are applicable to your situation would be very tough plus the 1 thing I would imagine to is like there could end up being pay walls for some of the stuff for any kind of like 6 some standards that exist but it looks like you came up with a fair amount of different solutions for them were there any that ended up helping out this particular discordant route I don't know good follow up for them so I actually went through and listed off the mill standard 1472 H. run version revision H. now I'm and I think this is a good resource for anyone looking for standards there's a lot of good work that goes into these male standards a lots of. Heavily researched. The human factors behind the scenes know some of the folks who actually put this together and so it's it's 1 of those things that it's freely available right so anyone in the world can download this if they Google mail standard 1472 revision H. they can find it and it's chock full of everything you can possibly imagine and so I pulled out a couple examples from the standards as a good starting point for you know if if you can't if you need an I standard hopefully your company will will get you on that 1 otherwise you can say you would hear to this standard and it's at least something right. So. You know I pulled out a couple of examples on here so sections 5.17.26 it's called brightness coding and perhaps section 3.2.75 which is visible and visibility of displays and then 3.2.76 visual display might have more info on these general display standards I am I I am curious to see if you know anyone else knows of any other standards out there that talk about specifically LED status indicators but I just thought it was such a unique question a good kind of time to mention that resource. That again is free for anyone to download. And it has a lot of really good solid human factors information in there bank based in science and its links all together so you can see where you know it was derived from and we you know the logic is in there and everything so it's it's a it's a good read I guess if you're you know a human factors nerd any anything else on standards Blake. I'd say one thing that might be worth US just chatting about for a second it is if this comes up what are some good places to go look for this kind of stuff we're gonna try and find if there is anything related here one obvious big hitter is you know using H. F. yes and their website to try and figure out why and can we interact with anybody if you're a member of that maybe knows this stuff or if they are kind of specific technical group this might be involved in depending on you know your domain of work. Another great place that I've always kind of you use sparingly is Google scholar to figure out if there's any kind of good publications that I could either grab and take back to my company and say like Hey these will be worth investigating for the problem we're dealing with or if depending on company work out if you have you know academic subscriptions maybe you can track down and see Hey did it does I. Tripoli have this or whatever it may be but the power of Google searching can be really useful are there any good resources you know of for kind of finding this information or even just looking it up I would start with LED standards just googling it and and see what comes up right and that'll lead you down a rabbit hole and I think I usually start with the mill standard if anything because they did they sent me in the direction of the research and I can find exactly where it came from and. Okay go down a rabbit hole that way if I need to investigate further right. Absolutely south all right we got time for one more which one you want to do Blake of these last 3 you want to do one or 3 were bummed that we didn't get to automotive and aerospace all right let's let's do that one this is from Q. K. B. R. N. F. X. J. M. S. O. V. E. R. I. easy D. G. on the human factor subreddit. I did not pick that because that may. Thanks click. This is automotive versus aerospace industry pros and cons for people who have worked in either or both as human factors professional what are your thoughts which one is better for our profession which one is more fun and which one has better long term job security Blake I'm curious what you think about the automotive versus aerospace industries. Yes so don't be prepared for like a full mouth full bias coming for me because there's definitely one that I would be more interested in. But I have had a little bit of experience working in the aviation realm no it wasn't the one part that I can't answer this question and Nick hope maybe you have a perspective on this but which is better for our profession I think that the equally bring different things to the table because from my perspective I know aerospace has a long long history and human factors I mean from cockpit design being the biggest one right. But it definitely AV IT automation in cars right now is a big deal and there's a lot of interesting spaces to you know it value wait from the design perspective the research perspective so autumn automotive is gonna be contributing and continue to contribute to the human factors world for a long time as well. So I would say that both are equally awesome for the field whether it's designed or human factors which work which one is more fun. But the only one reason I would say potentially automotive might be more fun for me is because of my own basic bias there's a lot of really cool things going on in cars right now from the automation side but also from like these infotainment systems that from my experience are widely kind of un standardize and there's a lot of different interesting interaction style problems it would be fun to work on there's a lot of different electric car companies that are being developed and their entire ecosystem and experiences not just for the traditional car experience there's a lot of like applications that are now tied to cars as well so the design space is huge so for me I'm I'm really excited about the implications of being a human factors and you experts in in the automotive world because more and more I think we're going to see it move kind of towards were aerospace is where it's not going to be as much of an active experience as it is a passive experience and so what you gonna do with all that time what are the variables you have to you know account for for safety issue happens why up you know fully automated cars driving there's just so many cool things are gonna happen in the automotive industry that I I would love to be a part of some of that stuff and by then the future part of my career long term job security I would say that either one probably brings a lot of. You know job security in and of itself because both are going to be dealing with different levels of automation and eventually probably A. I. so there's a lot going on there in terms of what's going to end in aviation I think there's like a different a bunch different past you could end up taking and it might be looking towards autumn you know autonomous vehicles are things that are not necessarily driven by people versus like working for delta if you say. But I don't know if it's migrating answer I think both fields are awesome and I I definitely would like to work in either one of them again but Nick your perspective on automation automotive and aerospace yeah do you want cookies or do you want cake they're both great. I think you know there at your. Neither is better for our profession they're both great for our profession and so like I don't understand that question so much as you know that they're they're both they both offer their own unique advantages right yeah I think in terms of fun it depends on what you like I said I said the thing but it does it really does it depends on what you enjoy doing do you enjoy trailblazing SO you might find that 8 a lot of things from the automotive for surface transportation come from the aviation or aerospace industry I feel like there's a lot more at stake when it comes to. Getting things wrong in aerospace. Then in automotive in terms of you know. Time research human lives. It went you know I I think human lives is debatable because there's more automotive wives lost than aerospace on an annual average but. It kind of depends on what on what you think if you want to save time and money for people if you wanna add then maybe go aerospace if you want to save lives the maybe go automotive. What's more fun to you. In terms of long term job security I'll tell you both are going to be around for a very long time automotive people think of ending when the user no longer tries for that's not true because you still have to keep them in the loop of what's going on with this automated system that's going to be very much supervisory control for the people in these automated vehicles and service transportation just in general is a huge domain and so you you have to deal with still the. I mean they're talking about specifically automotive I'm gonna expand that to surface transportation because you have things like. Signs and messaging for cyclists or pedestrians and that's huge too or you know communicating between the groups how do you communicate from a vehicle to a bicycle or how do you communicate from a cyclist to a pedestrian there's a bunch of different interesting communication things going on with. With surface transportation I think it's worth exploring. I think that's it right that's that's it any other thoughts on that one black. No I I do wanna echo you're saying that I mean do what you think is interesting to you and that the real answer is not gonna be wrong in that case perfect all right let's get into this last part of the show one more thing and then the in interactions where we talk about one more thing Blake what's what's your one more thing this week. Oh man so I one more thing it is a sad one more thing I am having one of the craziest experiences trying to get some technology to work and play nice together inside of like us up it's it's audio equipment again so I'm using like a it's got its for profit company called neural DSP and they have a S. C. plus plus design I think C. plus plus designed. Good horrible again but there is some kind of conflict going on within with it and my current operating system for my mac which is you know running the M. one chip and there's just threads and threads of information to go through and when you brought up earlier in the show the the kind of world of him this information that we kind of find ourselves and where you have to kind of make your own reality in some ways. It's it's been an interesting route to go down rabbit holes in forums and all that kind of stuff that I feel like I haven't done since I was in high school. That's that's kind of what's going on with me this troubleshooting silly things how are you man what's going on your world okay apologies for anyone who's around the pre show because I'm a say this again. I found a door for my pod anyone who's been listening to the show for awhile I'm building a pod for the pod but also like a work office in a 2 bedroom apartment right now what we look for a home and. I needed the third bedroom some effectively building that third bedroom around me anyway but a pocket door here to my right. And it has some very unique dimensions of non standard for a pocket door. And it's non standard for a regular door so I understood that going in that I would need to make some modifications to it now I was at I kia the other day we're looking for a chair for my wife's office and. We found it but then I also just happened to take a look at some of these large sheets of well cardboard furniture is what people call it but. And and lo and behold I found a desktop like at literal desktop not like a computer that was the exact dimensions that I was looking for the door so it's light enough to you know fit on a track and it's sturdy enough to act as a door so now I have an ikea desktop it's taking place of my this little void here that was that's behind this little instead we're looking for like sound absorption pad. That it you know depends pad for sound so behind that is my pocket door and I'm not gonna pull this off because it's a it's a big thing anyway for anyone listening I found a pocket door ikea and it's cool and if it's and it's very serendipitous so anyway. Yeah especially with the dimensions you're rattling off earlier it would've been impossible to figure out find without doing a custom yeah all right well that's gonna be it for today everyone let us know what you guys think the news story this week what do you think about aging do you think what do you wish would get better with age you can hang out with us on our slack or discord get to us on any of our social channels that are official website sign up for our newsletter stay up to date with all the latest human factors news if you like what you hear your sports show there's a couple things you can do one right now you can leave us a 5 star review that's free for you to do and really helps up show to tell your friends about us word of mouth is really important for helping us grow as a show of helping other people find it 3 if you're able to consider supporting us on Patreon we always appreciate the money but we always put it right back in the show we don't pocket any of that it always goes to things like conference coverage or you know some of the tools that we use to help put this thing out there weekly basis as always links all of our socials and website in the description of this episode one thing Mr Blake aren't or being on the show today where can our listeners going find you if they want to talk about dementia. Goodness you know talk about dementia you can always reach me in the human factors caste discord or slack at Blake and then across social media ad don't panic you axe as for me I've been your host Nick Rome you can find me streaming on twitch every Monday evening at 4:00 PM and profits hours and across social media at Nick _ Rome thanks again for tuning in human factors cast until next time. It depends.