[NetBehaviour] Researchers use brain scans on shoppers.

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Thu Jan 4 17:20:25 CET 2007

Researchers use brain scans on shoppers.

For the first time, researchers have used functional magnetic resonance 
imaging (fMRI) to determine what parts of the brain are active when 
people consider whether to purchase a product and to predict whether or 
not they ultimately choose to buy the product. The study appears in the 
journal Neuron and was co-authored by scientists at Carnegie Mellon 
University, Stanford University and the MIT Sloan School of Management.

This paper is the latest from the emerging field of neuroeconomics, 
which investigates the mental and neural processes that drive economic 
decision-making. The results could have a profound impact on economic 
theory, because the decision of whether to purchase a product is the 
most basic and pervasive economic behavior.

Previous imaging studies have found that separate parts of the brain are 
activated when people are confronted with financial gains versus 
financial losses. The authors of this latest study believed that 
distinct brain regions would be activated when people were presented 
with products they wish to purchase (representing a potential gain) and 
when they were presented with those products' prices (representing a 
potential loss). The researchers wanted to see if they could then use 
this information to predict when a person would decide to buy a product, 
and when they would pass it up.


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