How does it work?
Our scanning is done in Los Angeles, California. The fMRI is similar to a standard MRI machine; it consists of a donut shaped machine in which subjects lie down for the duration of the scan. The subject is given goggles that display the visual stimuli.
What does fMRI stand for and what does it do?
fMRI stands for functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It allows researchers to view the human mind in real-time, as emotions and cognitive thoughts are at play. Using fMRI, we can literally "map" the human mind as it reacts to stimuli with which it is presented. This technology has led to a wide range of academic studies in the past decade and an immense amount of insights into how the human mind functions.
Why does this matter to you?
Academic research, as well as the proprietary work we have done for Fortune 500 companies, shows clearly that what people say in focus groups and in response to poll questions is not always what they actually think, feel and act upon. fMRI scans, using our specially developed analytical methods, allow us to see beyond subjects' self-report and to understand the deeper emotions and thoughts that are driving (or impeding) behavior.
Looking beyond the spoken word provides immense and actionable insights into a brand, a competitive framework, advertising and visual images and cues.
How does this actually work?
The human mind is not one, large mass of grey matter. Instead, it is modular in design; different regions perform different tasks. Over the past decade, fMRI has allowed us to "map" several key regions of the brain with a high degree of specificity.
Our work develops a "research protocol" - a set of stimuli that can be TV ads, print ads, Internet web images, logos, slogans, sounds, even smells - and exposes recruited respondents to that protocol . This work generates huge amounts of data and we have spent over three years developing analytical methods to analyze this information.
A key part of that data is how the brain reacts in 9 well known and well mapped areas, such as the Ventral Striatum (reward), Orbitofrontal Prefrontal Cortex (wanting), Medial Prefrontal Cortex (feeling connected), Anterior Cingulate Cortex (conflict) and the Amygdala (threat/challenge).
Using this mapped data, as well as data from other parts of the brain, we have developed a set of norms that help us understand what is happening inside a subject's brain when they are exposed to a particular type of stimuli
What have you learned?
Most of our non-academic work is proprietary. Broadly, we have learned that 30% to 50% of the brand images, advertising and marketing material that is shown to respondents does not even fundamentally engage the human mind. In short, consumers filter out much of what they only see and hear. This filtering is either passive - they just don't engage; or active - they recognize an attempt at manipulation forcefully don't engage with it. Our research has shown the importance in understanding the emotions that create this filtering and how to address it.
What about my brand?
We have also found great insights into the "architecture of the brand." Where does a particular brand "live" in the human brain? There are sometimes complex and information rich answers this basic question. For example, when we did an academic study on the impact of iconic brands, such as Pepsi and Coke and McDonalds, we found that the same part of the brain lit up over images of sports logos - say, for the NBA or NFL. Such an association is important when it comes to developing new brands, campaigns and ads.
Where does your brand live? Where does the competition live? What are the powerful, emotional thoughts that are - and can be - evoked around your brand? These are critical marketing questions that we can help you answer.