Friday, March 04, 2005

Marketers increasingly using MRIs to measure audience brainwaves

As reported by Utne magazine, a growing amount of marketing agencies are now using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), a type of technological peek at how the brain works, to measure the ways consumers are reacting to commercials, television shows and Hollywood movies. Formally limited to legitimate medical use, including plotting neurological disease, the process is increasingly being used in an attempt to map a "desire button" in the human brain, that commercial clients can hopefully tap into by doing specific things in future advertising campaigns (that's the hope, anyway). Utne brings up an extremely good question, though: Do we really want companies to have the ability to own a neurological map to our "must buy this right this second" desires? As long as we're having all these preemptory ethics discussions about cloning and stem cells these days anyway, maybe we should add this subject to the list as well.