How does fMRI work in Neuromarketing?
Neuromarketing and its tools
As already said several times, the term Neuromarketing refers to the use of neuroscience to understand how people think and make purchasing decisions.
This obviously involves various unconscious brain processes that people are not aware of.
Neuromarketing experts use a variety of tools and techniques to measure consumer responses and behaviors, such as eye-tracking and EEG.
But there is also a more complex tool that I want to talk about in this article.
fMRI, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
It is the fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
That is, a non-invasive biomedical imaging technique used for both clinical and research purposes.
It’s a particular type of MRI used to detect brain areas that activate when
performing a given task (thinking, reading, speaking, etc.).
The fMRI is today considered a fundamental investigative tool in the neurological field.
It measures the variation of blood oxygenation over time, linked to neuronal activity that is generated in a specific experimental context.
To carry out the test, the subject is invited to lie on the back on a bed.
Through an electronic control, it is then made to slide inside the machinery.
It’s important that the person doesn’t move his head during the entire test, because the movements could disturb the image acquisition.
The person is asked to perform specific tasks.
For example, watch a video, listen to sounds, memorize some songs or press buttons.
The activities are always alternated with rest phases.
This is because the neural activity associated with a specific cognitive task is detected through the comparison between rest and active phases.
The exam usually lasts from 30 to 60 minutes.
fMRI applied to Neuromarketing
When it comes to fMRI applied to Neuromarketing, the procedure is practically the same.
During the test, the participant is asked to use a button to communicate answers related to the viewing of an advertising spot, a product, a packaging etc..
During the entire process, activated brain areas require more oxygen.
This causes increased blood flow to a region of the brain, which is collected by the machine’s magnets.
A recording of brain images with specific statistical data is therefore carried out.
Disadvantages of using fMRI
Unfortunately fMRI is a technique that has some disadvantages, as it is not a very accessible technology for various reasons.
First, the purchase price of the machine is very expensive compared to other tools used in Neuromarketing research.
In addition, it must be considered that the test has be carried out by qualified personnel with precise features.
For these reasons, fMRI technology is not widely used by neuromarketing experts.
Techniques such as eye-tracking and EEG are preferred.
Daimler Chrysler, Ford, Coca-Cola and fMRI
Although fMRI is not a widely used technique for the reasons listed above, there are some big companies that have used it for the development of new products and packaging design.
For example, in the past, Daimler Chrysler used fMRI to find out how consumers value the exterior design of their cars.
Ford, on the other hand, has commissioned some Neuromarketing experiments, including monitoring the brain activity of a sample of people while watching commercials related to the company.
Nonetheless, we shall discuss this in more detail at a later date.
Want to know more? Are you interested in learning more about other Neuromarketing tools?