Thursday, June 24, 2010

Brain Scans and Marketing: This Isn't Science Fiction

"Now scientists read your mind better than you can"
Reuters (June 22, 2010)

"Brain scans may be able to predict what you will do better than you can yourself, and might offer a powerful tool for advertisers or health officials seeking to motivate consumers, researchers said on Tuesday.

"They found a way to interpret 'real time' brain images to show whether people who viewed messages about using sunscreen would actually use sunscreen during the following week.

"The scans were more accurate than the volunteers were, Emily Falk and colleagues at the University of California Los Angeles reported in the Journal of Neuroscience...."

"...About half the volunteers had correctly predicted whether they would use sunscreen. The research team analyzed and re-analyzed the MRI scans to see if they could find any brain activity that would do better.

"Activity in one area of the brain, a particular part of the medial prefrontal cortex, provided the best information.

" 'From this region of the brain, we can predict for about three-quarters of the people whether they will increase their use of sunscreen beyond what they say they will do, Lieberman said...."

The functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, predicted the subjects' behavior correctly about 75% of the times.

I'll admit to being a little spooked by this article. It's unsettling to think that a gadget can 'look' inside my head and do a better job of predicting what I'll do better than I can. Even if it's possible only in tightly controlled conditions.

On the other hand, I can see the possibility of very useful medical applications for this sort of technology. Which could be used for - or against - a patient.

Oh, well, it isn't a perfect world.

More:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

Perchance you meant to include an 'if'? "Even it's possible only in tightly controlled conditions."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

Oh, fudge. You're right. Thanks!

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