The Neuroscience of Social Television

The Neuroscience of Social Television

Shaun A. Seixas, Geoffrey E. Nield, Peter Pynta, Richard B. Silberstein
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8353-2.ch010
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In a short few years, social media has become the dominant way in which we communicate with the outside world. It has become prevalent in almost every aspect of our daily lives, but one of the most significant changes social media has had, has been on the way we watch television. This phenomenon, known as dual screening, has caused some concern amongst marketers and advertisers, who believed that this behaviour was having an overall negative impact on consumer engagement with television. This chapter attempts to address some of these concerns by providing evidence obtained from the neurosciences and from a case study. The evidence we present in this chapter demonstrates the opposite effect, whereby social media can actually be used to enhance viewer engagement.
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A Brief Introduction To The Human Brain

The human brain is a vastly complicated organ that serves many functions that range from the automatic control of our hearts, to the voluntary control of our feet as we walk. The brain itself is divided into two halves, called hemispheres, which are connected by a thick bundle of nerves fibres known as the corpus callosum. Each hemisphere is divided into separate anatomical and functions regions known as the lobes. The most common of these are the frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Lateral view of the cerebral lobes of the human brain. Adapted from Gray’s Anatomy (Gray, 1918)


The frontal lobe is the largest of all the lobes and is located at the front of each hemisphere. The frontal lobes subserves many functions ranging from memory encoding (Brewer, Zhao, Desmond, Glover, & Gabrieli, 1998; Buckner, Kelley, & Petersen, 1999), voluntary motor control (Penfield & Boldrey, 1937; Penfield & Rasmussen, 1950), working memory (Miller & Cohen, 2001) and anticipation (Rolls, 2000). Traditionally seen as a classical sensory association area, the parietal lobe is also implicated in spatial ability, motor planning and attention processes (Bisley & Goldberg, 2010; Snyder, Batista, & Andersen, 2000). A prominent example of this occurs in visual sciences where the parietal lobe is referred to as the dorsal stream or “where” and “how” pathways (Goodale & Milner, 1992; Ungerleider & Mishkin, 1982). The parietal lobe is located adjacent to the frontal, temporal and occipital lobes. The temporal lobe is located towards the lateral side of the head, just beneath the parietal lobe. The lobe is involved in object recognition (Goodale & Milner, 1992; Ungerleider & Mishkin, 1982), facial processing (Sergent, Ohta, & MacDonald, 1992), memory (Maguire, Frith, Burgess, Donnett, & O'Keefe, 1998; Wood, Dudchenko, Robitsek, & Eichenbaum, 2000) and the understanding of language (Wernicke, 1970). Lastly, the occipital lobe is located at the very posterior of the head with its functioning primarily involved in vision.

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