Marketing: What Makes Us Buy?

A fast-growing industry called neuromarketing uses science to help marketers understand how we respond to products

On a recent Wednesday night, Eleanor Phipp spent and hour watching commercial television. Nothing unusual about that--except that Phipp, 30, was in a dark room at a South London medical center, lying inside a loudly whirring functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner that mapped her brain as video images flickered before her eyes. Brain scanners, which use radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to trace oxygenated blood to areas of neural activity, are used mainly to study or diagnose brain diseases. But Phipp's brain was being scrutinized by researchers to see how it reacted to the TV pictures--specifically, whether she responded...

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