Importance of Brain Reward System in Neuromarketing

Importance of Brain Reward System in Neuromarketing

Tayfun Uzbay (Üsküdar University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3126-6.ch001
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Abstract

Neuromarketing is a relatively new concept. It is simply focused on the relationship between consumer behavior and the brain. For this purpose, it analyzes various customer behaviors towards the product and purchase by using various brain imaging techniques and behavioral methodology. Some limbic structures of brain such as ventral tegmental area (VTA), nucleus acumbens (NAc), and amygdala have a link to prefrontal cortex (PFC) by dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic pathway. This functional link is called brain reward system (BRS). BRS has a crucial role in the decision-making process of humans during shopping as well as addiction processes of brain. Studies investigating BRS in neuromarketing are very limited. In the chapter, working principles of BRS in neuromarketing and association with human shopping behaviors and shopping addiction/dependence has been investigated and discussed.
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Introduction And Background

The declaration of the new millennium as the brain century has further increased the popularity of the brain and the brain researches. In the past, brain research was carried out exclusively in the fields of medicine such as neurology, psychiatry, brain and neurosurgery, the biology of basic science and the psychology of social sciences. In this century, law, history, philosophy, various engineering fields, politics, economics, communication and ethics are joined to the neuroscience area and the period of interdisciplinary (multidisciplinary) brain studies started. Although some are challenging, new fields such as neurolaw, neurohistory, neurophilosophy, neuroengineering, neuropolitics, neuroethics and neuroeconomics have emerged and the number of interdisciplinary researches is increasing.

Recently, a new tool of marketing research called “neuromarketing” has evolved from brain researches that investigate an association with customer behaviors (i.e., decision-making processes during shopping) and brain activity. It is an adaptation of neuroscience to marketing. Neuromarketing has gained growing popularity in the academia as well as the commercial world and includes the direct use of brain imaging, scanning, or other brain activity measurement technics such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), electroencephalography (EEG), eye tracking, pupil dilatation reflex (PDR) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record an individual’s response to marketing products (Javor et al., 2013; Kumar and Singh, 2015). Thus, neuromarketing is a new exciting field with great potential for application in the practical zones of marketing, brand management and advertising. Human behavior and psychology, psychiatry, neurology and some other disciplines of social sciences such as sociology, ethics, economy, management and even law have a robust connection with neuromarketing (Breiter et al., 2015).

The human brain is approximately 1.5 kg in weight and places into our skull which a safe place. It is composed of %75-80 water, more than %10 lipid and %8 protein. It is divided into two part named hemisphere, left and right hemispheres connected by the corpus callosum. In Figure 1, a sagittal section of the right hemispheres of the brain including some important structures and formations are seen. Simply, we can evaluate the brain in two essential parts in aspect to emotion, drive, decision and behavior. These parts are the limbic system seeing in the red circle and frontal cortex.

Figure 1.

Brain and some important structures and formations (NAc: Nucleus Accumbens; VTA: Ventral tegmental area)

978-1-7998-3126-6.ch001.f01
Source: Modified from Morley, 2009; with the approval of the author.

The limbic system includes some important anatomical and functional formations of the brain such as thalamus, amygdala, hippocampus and nucleus accumbens (NAc).

Thalamus is responsible for the functions of the brain involved infiltration and realization. Hippocampus is a center of memory. It is also associated with coordination of thinking processes. Amygdala is related to some excited feelings such as fear and anger. NAc and ventral tegmental area (VTA) located in the center of the limbic system generates the basis of the brain reward system (BRS). Two brain hemispheres are consolidated or connected to each other by dense fibers called corpus callosum. It is also associated with creativity and problem solution. The cerebellum is responsible for muscle coordination, moving and thinking processes. The frontal cortex of the brain is associated with planning, strategizing, logic and judgment. While the limbic part of our brain represents motivational and impulsive behaviors, the frontal cortex, especially in, prefrontal part of cortex (PFK) represents voluntary and decision-making processes and behavioral control against to impulsivity.

Sometimes, neuromarketing has also been associated to several exaggerated claims, such as control of consumer behavior by external interventions or the presence of a “purchase button” in the brain (Ariely and Berns, 2010). The ethical aspect of neuromarketing and whether it really can be a sub-discipline of neuroscience is already debated among scientists.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Addictive Behavior: An addictive behavior is a behavior, or a stimulus related to a behavior (e.g., shopping, food, gambling, some drugs), that is both rewarding and reinforcing, and is linked with the development of an addiction.

Decision Making: Decision making is the process of making choices by identifying a decision, gathering information, and evaluating other resolutions.

Neuromarketing: Neuromarketing is a multidisciplinary field of commercial marketing communication that applies neuroscience to marketing research and examines the perceptual functions of consumers, their emotional responses to cognitive and marketing stimuli.

Attention: The power to concentrate thought on something. Attention is the focus of consciousness. Objectively, it requires selecting a portion of all sensory or memory-embedded information for later use.

Brain Reward System (BRS): Some limbic structures of the brain such as ventral tegmental area (VTA), nucleus accumbens (NAc) and amygdala have a link to the prefrontal cortex (PFC) by dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic pathway. This functional link is called brain reward system (BRS). BRS has a crucial role in the decision-making process of humans during shopping as well as addiction processes of the brain.

Reinforcement: Reinforcement is a consequence applied that will strengthen an organism's future behavior whenever that behavior is preceded by a specific antecedent stimulus. Positive reinforcement and motivational behaviors are modulated by the mesolimbic dopaminergic system.

Reflective Reward System: A complementary and in some ways, a competitive component of the reactive reward system is the reflective reward system, or the “top-down” component of reward circuitry. This includes important connections from the prefrontal cortex down to the NAc. This system is related to decision making process during shopping.

Reactive Reward System: The reactive reward system provides motivation and behavioral drive from the “bottom-up”, including the mesolimbic pathway and the amygdala. Projections of this system to both ends of this pathway. Connections the amygdala makes both with dopaminergic nerves in the VTA and with spiny neurons in the NAc.

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