How Neuromarketing Works
Over the next 150 years, neuroscientists studied the phenomenon Phineas’ accident revealed and eventually mapped out the brain, describing functions each portion controlled. Although much more research is needed to completely understand the brain, a few portions particularly important to neuromarketing are the amygdala, hypothalamus, and hippocampus. Research shows that the amygdala corresponds to emotional memory . The hypothalamus is known to control “motivational states including hunger, appetite and food intake, and everything to do with the concept of pleasure including satisfaction, comfort and creative activities” . The hippocampus acts as a “memory indexer” placing some memories into long term storage and helping to retrieve them when needed . These areas of the brain can be seen in Fig. 2 .
Good neuromarketing is successful when these portions of the brain are active because that means the product or advertisement is associated with emotion, motivational states such as hunger, and ultimately, placed into the long term memory.
The MRI machine was developed to create three dimensional maps of the body as seen in Fig. 3 . To produce these maps the MRI machine is tuned to detect the presence of hydrogen in the body . Since hydrogen is present in all bodily tissues in the form of H2O, the MRI will give us a map of hydrogen density in the area of the body we are imaging . When the person enters the MRI machine, a powerful magnet causes all hydrogen atoms in the body to realign themselves with the magnetic field created by the MRI machine. Since hydrogen has one proton, that proton is unhappy that it is forced to match the magnetic field of the MRI rather than rest in its natural position. The moment the MRI’s magnetic field is turned off the hydrogen atom will flip back to its original position. As this happens, it expels energy as a tiny magnetic field. When all the hydrogen atoms in a human body flip back to their natural position, they all release tiny magnetic fields. All of these magnetic fields are captured by the MRI machine and turned into a three dimensional map of the body.
While the MRI machine is great at determining what is happening deep inside the brain, the EEG machine measures electrical impulses generated by synapses near the surface of the brain. These electrical synapses are measured by placing between 20 and 256 electrodes on the scalp as seen in Figure 4 . Reading the electrical synapses of the brain provides scientists a “window into the mind” by correlating different synapse patterns with different states of mind . The synapse patterns of someone sleeping will be totally different of someone that is awake. Different synapse patterns can also distinguish between feelings of happiness, sadness, and disgust . The EEG machine and its ability to differentiate between different states of mind make it a useful tool to neuromarketing experts.
Discourse Surrounding Neuromarketing
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