THE TRIPLE HELIX
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eople who have found themselves indulging in clothingtrends, jiving to mainstream music, or frequenting thelocal Starbucks can see that companies spend billionsa year researching how to perpetuate such conformity.What people may not know is that the advertising itself is becoming far more scientifically advanced. Neuromarketingis an emerging branch of neuroscience in which researchersuse medical technology to determine consumer reactions toparticular brands, slogans, and advertisements. By observing brain activity, researchers in lab-coats can predict whether youprefer Pepsi or Coke more accurately than you can. Criticshave already begun to denounce the idea for its intrusiveness;however, though the field is already highly controversial, thereis no doubt that its continuing development will ultimatelyhave a profound impact on consumerism and the overallstudy of human behavior.In America’s capitalist society, advertisements drive oureveryday lives. While the idea of actual ‘mind control’ mayseem far-fetched and unrealistic, the fact remains that themarketing industry has had a firm grasp over the Americanperception of everything from smoking to sex education.Our current concept of marketing, with its image-based ads,department store window displays, and catchy TV jingles,actually did not exist before the mid-1900s. Starting in the1950s, fast food industries teamed up with processed foodcompanies to shape the concept of what we now understand to be McDonald’s and Burger King ‘cuisine’ . In the 1980s, theinvention of cable TV, VCRs, and remote controls revolutionizedthe advertising world, as it allowed the media to becomemuch more easily accessible to average families . Thesedevelopments soon allowed advertising executives to caterto the public’s general interests and subconscious desires.Over time, the marketing industry has learned to exploitour responses to a wide variety of images and concepts. Itis not difficult, however, to recognize and understand themethodology behind these marketing campaigns. The strategicplacement of Victoria’s Secret models into Super Bowl halftimecommercials has an obvious sexual appeal. Celebrities arepaid to endorse particular products, since their personaltestimonies make any company just seem better. Even thecatchiness of a jingle makes us more likely to pause whenwe see a bag of Kit Kats or Goldfish crackers. But somehow,despite the almost laughably obvious marketing methods,we still respond positively to popular brands and catchyslogans—tools crafted purposely by marketing executivesto catch our attention. This tendency to gravitate towardfamiliar symbols and phrases is the driving force behindthe concept of neuromarketing. Scientists are focusing onthese natural inclinations, using brain imaging techniquesto gauge consumer reactions and expand upon morecommon, traditional methods, such as surveys and focusgroups .There are multiple types of brain-imaging technologiesused in current neuromarketing studies: fMRI (functionalmagnetic resonance imaging), QEEG (quantitativeelectroencephalography), and MEG (magnetoencephalography).However, the fMRI method is currently the most popularamongst marketing companies, since it utilizes mainstreamtechnology to produce clear images of real-time brain activity. As an imaging technique, the process also translates resultsmore easily into layman’s terms: rather than presenting datain strings of incomprehensible numbers, fMRI technologygives people the opportunity to actually visualize the activitypatterns in their brains .fMRI works by gauging amounts of hemoglobin, theoxygen-carrier on red blood cells, in certain parts of the body.
Neuromarketing:Who Decides What You Buy?
Advertising is becomingmore scientificallyadvanced
Malls are a prime example of where plenty of Neuromarketing takes place, suchas here in Plaza Blok M. Mall in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reproduced from .