Neuroscience References

Read these clinical references for more information about the application of neuroscience.

Marketing and advertising is changing.

This change has been inevitable, as marketing executives begin to realise that traditional, self-report measures of attitude are unreliable, there has been a turn towards neuroscience. Neuroscience allows us to tap into the non-conscious minds of consumers.

There are in fact two types of attitudes: Explicit and Implicit

This study is based on the idea that emotion-related processing happens on various different levels. Common methods that are used to measure different aspects of emotion-related processing exhibit specific sensitivities to one or the other of these separate processing levels.

Here, the hypothesis was tested that explicit and implicit measures of emotion-related processing are differently influenced by self-referenced versus unreferenced emotion. The explicit measure was self reported valence and the implicit measure was startle reflex modulation. In one session, emotional scenes were paired with short sentences inducing self-reference (e.g. “this dog will attack you” written underneath the image of an aggressive dog), while in another session, emotional scenes were presented without any reference.

During both sessions explicit as well as implicit responses were collected. Self-referenced unpleasant images were rated more negative and self-referenced pleasant images were rated more positive than images with no reference. In contrast, the implicit measure indicated greater startle responses related to self-reference regardless of emotion category. Under the common assumption that greater startle responses reflect increased affective negativity, this means that self-referenced pleasant images elicited more negative implicit affect than unreferenced pleasant images.

However, in both cases (self-referenced and unreferenced) startle responses demonstrated valence depended modulation as expected. Thus, in our study startle responses demonstrated sensitivity to affective valence as well as self-reference. It is concluded that self-reference is linked to increased motivation, which in turn has been reported to be detectable via startle reflex modulation (SRM) as well.

Click here to read the full paper


Discrepancies Between Explicit and Implicit Attitudes

Two experiments investigate effects related to food intake in humans. In Experiment 1, we measured startle response modulation while study participants ate ice cream, yoghurt, and chocolate. Statistical analysis revealed that ice cream intake resulted in the most robust startle inhibition compared to no food.

Contrasting females and males, we found significant differences related to the conditions yoghurt and chocolate. In females, chocolate elicited the lowest response amplitude followed by yoghurt and ice cream. In males, chocolate produced the highest startle response amplitude even higher than eating nothing, whereas ice cream produced the lowest.

Assuming that high response amplitudes reflect aversive motivation while low response amplitudes reflect appetitive motivational states, it is interpreted that eating ice cream is associated with the most appetitive state given the alternatives of chocolate and yoghurt across gender. However, in females alone eating chocolate, and in males alone eating ice cream, led to the most appetitive state.

Experiment 2 was conducted to describe food intake-related brain activity by means of source localization analysis applied to electroencephalography data (EEG). Ice cream, yoghurt, a soft drink, and water were compared. Brain activity in rostral portions of the superior frontal gyrus was found in all conditions. No localization differences between conditions occurred. While EEG was found to be insensitive, startle response modulation seems to be a reliable method to objectively quantify motivational states related to the intake of different foods.

Click here to read the full paper


The Future of Marketing

In the present study we investigated consumers’ attitudes towards a variety of brands using both implicit and explicit measures. We aimed at proving that like and dislike as in brand attitude are indeed associated with positive and negative affect and at testing whether or not different levels of motivation exist between like and dislike.

In particular, late positive potential (LPP) effects were assessed as an implicit physiological measure of motivational significance. The implicit Association Test (IAT) was used as an implicit behavioural measure of valence-related aspects (affective content) of brand attitude. We constructed individualised stimulus lists of liked and disliked brand types from participants‟ subjective pre-assessment. Participants then re-rated these visually presented brands whilst changes in brain electric activity were recorded via electroencephalography (EEG).

First, self-report measures during the test session confirmed pre-assessed attitudes underlining robust and consistent explicit rating performance. Second, liked brands elicited significantly more positive going waveforms (LPPs) than disliked brands over right parietal cortical areas starting at about 800 ms post stimulus onset (reaching statistical significance at around 1000 ms) and lasting until the end of the recording epoch (2000 ms).

In accordance to the literature this finding is interpreted as reflecting positive affect-related motivational aspects of liked brands. Finally, the IAT revealed that both liked and disliked brands indeed are associated with affect-related valence. The higher levels of motivation associated with liked brands is interpreted as potentially reflecting increased purchasing intention, but this is of course only speculation at this stage.

Unpublished Manuscript