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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How the Brain Reveals Why We Buy:Why do you chose Pepsi instead of Coke?

A fascinating new research article concerning research into human buying behavior has been posted at the online edition of Scientific America. The article, written by Dr. Lone Frank (an award-winning journalist, science writer, and tv presenter. She holds a PhD in neurobiology and has worked as a research scientist in Denmark and the United States), indicates that it is the medial prefrontal cortex of our human brain which is involved in
human buying behavior. The medial prefrontal cortex (see image below):

 is a very old part of the human brain –it is an area very much involved in our self-identification and the construction of our personality in general. "This part of the frontal lobes is involved when we relate to ourselves and to who we are in some way. Researchers believe that when companies brand their products this  fundamentally changes the way a human being comprehends sense impressions. This is the conclusion  drawn from a study of what can be called the Pepsi paradox.

 For decades, it has been known that Pepsi is the preferred cola in blind taste tests, but it is still Coca-Cola that continues to be the absolute bestseller in the U.S. and the rest of the world. In an experiment done by  Read Montague of Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, about seventy volunteers were placed in an MRI imaging machine and then were asked to  to taste two famous soft drinks:Coke and Pepsi  in a blind taste test. Which product did these volunteers prefer? The answer is Pepsi.  The MRI revealed that Pepsi set off greater activity in the  ventral putamen  area of the volunteer's brain than Coca-Cola. The putamen is an area cradled deep in the brain in the striatum, which is, among other things, a component in the reward system. So, the interpretation was straightforward–the activity meant "this feels good.""

"Next these same volunteers were asked to be involved in a second experiment. This time the volunteer was asked to  taste two colas with visible labels. When the research subjects knew which brown liquid was which, almost all of them suddenly preferred Coca-Cola!!!

Subjects believed that the taste of Coca-Cola was much better than the taste of Pepsi. This  change in attitude
 was found to be due to a change in the  volunteer's brain: the medial prefrontal cortex was activated in the subject's brain . The cerebral cortex intervened with its higher cognitive processes and these processes took precedence over the immediate feeling of reward that was evoked by the taste impression. "The product that actually tasted worse and provided a poorer physiological reward was viewed as better when the whole identification apparatus and the idea "this is so me" went into action."

Professional marketers hope to make use of this new research, now that these experts understand why  and how a consumer choses one brand over another. 

Excerpted from Mindfield: How Brain Science is Changing Our World by Lone Frank. Copyright © 2009


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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.