Small 'neural focus groups' predict anti-smoking ad success
Brain scans of a small group of people can predict the actions of entire populations, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of Oregon and the University of California at Los Angeles.
The findings are relevant to political advertising, commercial market research and public health campaigns, and broaden the use of brain imaging from a diagnostic to a predictive tool.
As opposed to the wisdom of the crowd, the study suggests that the neurological reactions of a fewreactions that people are not even consciously aware of and that differ from the opinions they expresscan predict the responses of many other people to ad campaigns promoting specific behaviors.
"Brain responses to ads forecasted the ads' success when other predictors failed," said Emily Falk, director of the U-M Communication Neuroscience Lab and lead author of the study, which appears online in Psychological Science.
"Our findings could help design better health campaigns. This is a key step in reducing the number of smokers and reducing deaths from cancer, heart disease and other smoking-related illnesses."
The findings, she said, might also help produce more effective political campaign ads and provide a neural roadmap to why some videos, fashions, behaviors and ideas go viral, moving from one person to many thousands of others via social media.
Falk conducted the study with Elliot Berkman of Oregon and Matthew Lieberman of UCLA. The researchers were supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
For the study, the researchers recruited 31 heavy smokers with a strong desire to quit, and examined their neural responses to three anti-smoking ad campaigns, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). All of the ads directly urged viewers to call the National Cancer Institute's tobacco quit-line (1-800-QUIT-NOW).
This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Samples of anti-smoking adsFollowing the fMRI, participants rated the effectiveness of the ads they had just viewed in a variety of ways. The researchers compared their brain scans to their reports on the ads' effectiveness.
To obtain population-level measures, the researchers compared the number of calls to the tobacco quit-line in the month before and after each media campaign first aired in three different media markets.
When asked what they thought of the ads, participants rated Campaign B the highest, followed by Campaign A and then Campaign C. Industry experts familiar with the campaigns also disliked Campaign C. The three campaigns used very different strategies. Raters found Campaign C annoying and guessed that it would be ineffective. By contrast, Campaigns A and B resonated with participants, but in the end were less effective in actually driving calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
But brain scans, which focused on the medial pre-frontal cortex, an area of the brain identified in earlier studies as linked to positive responses to persuasive messages, showed a completely different order, with Campaign C eliciting the strongest response.
At the population level, each ad campaign led to increases in call volume to the quit-smoking line, compared with a no-media control month before the launch of each campaign. The increases ranged from 2.8 times to 32 times higher than the control month, and the researchers found that Campaign C led to the highest increases, followed by Campaign B and lastly Campaign Ajust the opposite of the participants' guesses but precisely the same as their brain scans showed.
"It seems that the brain is picking up on important features of these ads, but we're not sure what these features are yet," said Falk, assistant professor of communication studies and a faculty associate at the U-M Institute for Social Research. "We're doing follow up studies now to translate what the brain is telling us about how to design better messages."
This study broadens the use of neuroscience data from predicting individual behavior to predicting the responses of much larger groups of people.
"It seems that the brain can predict the responses of entire populations to ad campaigns," Falk said. "The behavior of people whose brains are never examined may be inferred from the brains of a small 'neural focus group.'
"These findings could help us improve the success of campaigns. In the long run, we hope this will help us fight cancer and other preventable diseases."
More information: Falk's Communications Neuroscience Lab: cn.isr.umich.edu/index.html
Berkman's Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab: sanlab.uoregon.edu… SAN_Lab.html
Lieberman's Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab: www.scn.ucla.edu
Provided by University of Michigan
- Brain scan can tell if a smoker will quit (w/ Video) Jan 31, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- CDC: Ads spark huge increase to quit smoking line Mar 30, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Positive media campaigns help minorities put down cigarettes Apr 29, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Anti-tobacco TV ads help adults stop smoking, study finds Apr 19, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- CDC launching graphic anti-smoking ad campaign Mar 15, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
1 hour ago Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered specific chemical alterations in two genes that, when present during pregnancy, reliably predict whether a woman will develop postpartum depression.
Psychology & Psychiatry 4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A Mediterranean diet with added extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts seems to improve the brain power of older people better than advising them to follow a low-fat diet, indicates research published online in the Journal of ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 13 hours ago | 2 / 5 (1) | 2
More people are being diagnosed with eating disorders every year and the most common type is not either of the two most well known—bulimia or anorexia—but eating disorders not otherwise specified (eating disorders that ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 13 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Turns out, that old "practice makes perfect" adage may be overblown. New research led by Michigan State University's Zach Hambrick finds that a copious amount of practice is not enough to explain why people ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 14 hours ago | 3.3 / 5 (10) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Individuals who learn two languages at an early age seem to switch back and forth between separate "sound systems" for each language, according to new research conducted at the University of Arizona.
Psychology & Psychiatry 16 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 0 |
(HealthDay)—Injections of a sugar solution appear to help relieve knee pain and stiffness related to osteoarthritis, a new study suggests.
54 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at the School of Medicine have shown that their previously identified therapeutic approach to fight cancer via immune cells called macrophages also prompts the disease-fighting killer T cells ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Over the past few decades, scientists have developed many devices that can reopen clogged arteries, including angioplasty balloons and metallic stents. While generally effective, each of these treatments ...
58 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(HealthDay)—Obese and overweight men and women who suffer from heartburn often report relief when they lose weight, a new study shows.
44 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(HealthDay)—When it comes to the care of your children's teeth, dentists aren't the only experts who can help.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—In a recent subgroup analysis of the largest blood pressure treatment trial in history, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers found that women and men react the same to ...
18 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0