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Buyer beware: Advertising may seduce your brain, UCLA researchers say
Date:9/20/2011

Are you wooed by advertising? Of course you are. After all, it's one thing to go out and buy a new washing machine after the old one exploded, quite another to impulse-buy that 246-inch flat screen TV that just maybe, in hindsight, you didn't really need.

Advertisers come at you in two ways. There is the just-the-facts type of ad, called "logical persuasion," or LP ("This car gets 42 miles to the gallon"), and then there is the ad that circumvents conscious awareness, called "non-rational influence," or NI (a pretty woman, say, draped over a car).

Despite research surrounding the notion of neuromaketing, which studies consumers' cognitive responses to marketing stimuli, the impact on brain function of these types of real-world advertisements was unknown. Now, researchers at UCLA and George Washington University have shown that different types of advertisements evoke different levels of brain activity, depending on whether they use elements of logical persuasion or non-rational influence.

Reporting in the current online edition of the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, Dr. Ian Cook, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and colleagues found that brain regions involved in decision-making and emotional processing were more active when individuals viewed ads that used logical persuasion than when they viewed ads that used non-rational influence. These brain regions help us inhibit our responses to certain stimuli.

In other words, "Watch your brain and watch your wallet," Cook said. "These results suggest that the lower levels of brain activity from ads employing NI images could lead to less behavioral inhibition, which could translate to less restraint when it comes to buying products depicted in the NI advertisements."

In the study, 24 healthy adults 11 women and 13 men viewed advertising images while electrical activity in their brains w
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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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