What does your preference for your favorite cola have to do with Pavlov’s dogs? New studies described in New Scientist used fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans of the brain show that our brand preferences may be stored in much the same way as Pavlov’s famous canines learned to salivate when they heard the food bell.

The tests used visual images and a juice reward to evaluate brain activity in humans. The subjects quickly learned to associate a particular image with a more pleasant juice flavor, and began (like Pavlov’s dogs) to respond purely to the visual cue. The article suggests that brand preferences are formed when an individual has a good experience with a brand. Meanwhile, the Sacrificial Rabbit blog is concerned about the whole idea of brain science marketing.

I find it a bit of a leap to go from a food reward to sophisticated brand marketing, but it’s certainly evident that we humans are readily conditioned.

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