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Neuromarketing for fun and profit. Well, okay, just profit.
Jamais Cascio, 28 Oct 03

According to an article in last Sunday's New York Times (free sub required, but you knew that already), technologies such as MRIs, which allow the scanning of brain function, are increasingly being used to understand why people are moved by advertising, how consumerism shapes (and is shaped by) identity, and what marketers can do to take advantage of this.

The article refers to this as "neuromarketing," and suggests that it might be the next revolution in consumer culture. Some ads result in stimulation of pleasure centers, some in the stimulation of identity centers, and others in the stimulation of cognitive centers. The tricky part is that which sections of the brain get the most stimulation varies from person to person. Presumably, this stimulation will also shift over time, as consumers develop brand loyalties and react to shifting styles.

This hits close to home for me, not because I'm in marketing or have access to a home MRI kit, but because I just finished a science fiction game book called Toxic Memes which spends quite a bit of time discussing the implications of a world where brain functions have been fully mapped and many people wear devices that tap directly into cognitive functions. I figured something like this would happen soon, but not this soon.

We still understand only a small fraction of how the brain works, but neuroscience is learning more every day. The development of vision systems for the blind that tap directly into the brain and implants that allow a primate brain to control remote devices would have been considered fanciful science fiction a decade ago, and will seem primitive and clumsy a decade from now. What will the world look like when we can send instant messages to each other not through thumb-driven handheld devices, but simply by thinking? Or when we can tap into each other's cognitive abilities in order to make big decisions? What will "grid" neurosystem networks look like?

You think things are weird now? Just wait.

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NeuroMarketing 2004

The Human Neuroimaging Lab at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX) is hosting a novel symposium April 16-18 to introduce any and all interested parties to the fundamentals of neuroimaging and its range of applications in different markets.

Posted by: Mark Ross on 1 Dec 03



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