We’re Spending Without Using our Brain?

I just spent the last couple days in a neuroscience course and I must admit I really enjoyed it. It was very interesting to see the connections between our mind, body, and brain. Yes the brain and mind are separate yet co-habitate. Our brains can override our minds and visa versa.

In the course of the couple days we looked at various studies that researched the mind body connection. One of them particularly caught my eye that I thought I would share with your all.

The work was published in the Journal of Neuroscience online on Feb. 16.

They showed college-aged men a parade of female faces, intermixed with images of money, while measuring brain activation using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In a later experiment, the same participants could pay more or less money to view more or less attractive faces.

“One part of the frontal cortex of our participants’ brains increased in activation to more attractive faces, as if it computed those faces’ hedonic (quality of the experience) value,” said senior author Scott Huettel, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology & neuroscience who directs the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies at Duke. “A nearby brain region’s activation also predicted those faces’ economic value – specifically, how much money that person would be willing to trade to see another face of similar attractiveness.”

During the fMRI experiment, heterosexual men viewed a set of female faces that had previously been rated for attractiveness by peers. Interspersed with the face pictures were pictures of money, shown in several denominations, which indicated real monetary gains or losses that the participant could later spend during the next phase of the experiment. The participants made a series of economic decisions: Should they spend more of their money to see a more attractive face, or spend less money but see a less attractive face? Each participant made about one hundred of these decisions, spending from 1 to 12 cents each time.

The researchers measured fMRI activation while the participants viewed the faces and money. In a region near the front of the brain, the anterior ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC), there was increased activation when participants saw a more attractive face or saw a picture of a larger amount of money. That pattern of brain activation was relatively stable across participants in the study. Yet, slightly farther back in the brain, within posterior VMPFC, the researchers also could see the relative activation to the faces compared to money, which strongly predicted how each person would later spend to see a more attractive face.

Huettel said that findings from neuroscience might lead to new directions in marketing. “People often respond to images in a very idiosyncratic fashion,” he said. “While we can’t use neuroscience to identify the best images for every person’s brain, we could identify types of images that tend to modulate the right sorts of value signals – those that predict future purchases for a market segment.”

Lead author David V. Smith, a graduate student in psychology & neuroscience, explained further: “Previous studies have shown that active decisions about the value of real goods, such as candy or consumer products, evoke activation in the VMPFC. Our study demonstrates that the VMPFC actually contains two signals for value: one that indicates how much value we are currently experiencing, and another that indicates how much we’d be willing to pay to have that experience again later.”

The study is basically saying that what our brain values may not necessarily be what we decide to buy. I thought this was key in the whole aspect of training ourselves and our minds to make good decisions when it comes to spending and money management.

So what do you think about these study results? Do you think we are overcome with our perception of value?


Comments

We’re Spending Without Using our Brain? — 9 Comments

    • I wish I could tell you. I honestly just seem to think up this stuff. I have a very active mind and find learning new facts really fun. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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