GAINESVILLE, Fla. First came direct marketing, then focus groups. Now, advertisers, with the help of neuroscientists, are closing in on the holy grail: mind reading.
At least, thats what is suggested in a paper published today in the journal Human Brain Mapping authored by a group of professors in advertising and communication and neuroscience at the University of Florida.
The seven researchers used sophisticated brain-scanning technology to record how subjects brains responded to television advertisements, while simultaneously collecting the subjects reported impressions of the ads. By comparing the two resulting data sets, they say, they pinned down specific locations in the brain as the seat of many familiar emotions that ripple throughout it. The feat is another step toward gauging how people feel directly through functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, and other brain-scanning technology without relying on what they claim to be feeling, the researchers say.
We are getting to the heart of the matter by really showing this process in the brain, and how it works, said Jon Morris, a professor of advertising and communications and lead author of the article. We feel that this can be used to find out what people really feel about something, whether an advertisement or any other stimulus.
Using MRI or fMRI the former creates internal images of the brain, while the latter tracks blood flow within the brain to test consumers responses to advertisements or other stimuli is not new. But according to the study, much of the previous research has found that, for example, responses to pleasant or unpleasant stimuli occurred throughout many regions of the brain, rather than in one specific location. As a result, the technique seemed of limited usefulness: Analysts could gauge only general response activity, not specific emotions.
There was no real key happiness center, no key sad center, no key love center, Morris s
|Contact: Jon Morris|
University of Florida