This is your brain on ads.

Not to take away from Tory’s great title, but this article describes what your brain is like on ads. The field of Neuro Advertising has been  growing quickly in the past few years and was formed on the basis that the brain does much more than conscious processing. Thus, the field explores the mechanisms that are involved in the subconscious processing that goes on what watching an ad.

How do Neuro Advertising firms perform their research? Not by focus groups, that’s for sure. They typically use EEG testing to measure brain waves as well as eye tracking devices while participants in their studies watch ads, movie trailers, and the like. Dr. Pradeep claims that by analyzing brain waves they are able to “measure attention, emotion, and memory.” So what happens to our brain waves when watching a tv commercial? The article argues that certain EEG waves that correlate with heightened attention become more active, while others subside.

I think that Neuro Advertising is an incredibly interesting field, and it pushes research in a new, highly specified direction; however, I think this NYT article made the field appear to be too peachy-keen. There is so much we do not know about the brain, and EEG testing is really only one method to understanding how the brain works in a process. Furthermore, I have to question the correlation science going on here. I think that the brain is so complex, and there is so much individual variation associated with culture (insert WEIRD article here), that it would be too easy to say “this is how the brain works when you watch this tv add.” On the other hand, the article did not mention specific cases in which neuro advertisising was successful, so I’m still wondering about its true effect. Although there are a lot of caveats that come with this new field of both neuroscience and advertising, I find it to be an interesting extension of research.

4 thoughts on “This is your brain on ads.

  1. Not to sound paranoid, but I’m a little scared that ads are going to activate the spot in the brain where we then subconsciously fall prey to the advertising…


  2. @Sam:
    Changes in brain activity during the observation of TV commercials by using EEG, GSR and HR measurements. (2010)

    Changes in brain activity in certain regions produce better memory of the commercial, but why? IS there something in the left frontal brain area that activates the reward pathway? the “I need this now” pathway?? Creepy.


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