The researchers were able to accurately predict the preferences of large TV audiences. For example, for "The Walking Dead," brain activity among the participants predicted 40 percent of related social media or Twitter traffic, the team said. The participants' brainwaves also predicted 60 percent of the Nielsen ratings, which are used to determine the size of a TV audience.
When it came to Super Bowl ads, the study was 90 percent accurate in predicting viewer preferences. There were very similar brainwaves among participants watching a 2012 Budweiser commercial, which featured a beer-fetching dog. This ad was voted the second favorite by the general public that year, the researchers noted.
Meanwhile, there was little similarity among the brain activity of the participants during a GoDaddy commercial, which was among the worst-rated ads of 2012.
"Our findings show that these immediate responses are in fact closely tied to the subsequent behavior of the general population," added Dmochowski, who was a postdoctoral fellow at the City College of New York when the study was conducted.
"Interesting ads may draw our attention and cause deeper sensory processing of the content," speculated researcher Matthew Bezdek from Georgia Tech in the news release.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides more information on the human brain and how it works.
SOURCE: Georgia Institute of Technology, news release, July 29, 2014
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