When I first heard that famed neuroscientist Eric Kandel was about to join the Neurofocus advisory board, I was both surprised and excited. Surprised, because Kandel – a professor at Columbia University, a Nobel Laureate, and the top neuroscientist working on human memory – seemed like the kind of guy who might have more important stuff on his plate than helping sell cars and video games. My excitement came from the credibility that Kandel’s presence would lend not just to Neurofocus, but to the fledgling neuromarketing industry.
Now it has come to pass. From the Neurofocus announcement,
“NeuroFocus is greatly honored by Dr. Kandel’s presence on our Advisory Board, and we and our clients look forward to benefitting from his unsurpassed knowledge in the neuroscience field,” said Dr. A. K. Pradeep, Chief Executive Officer of NeuroFocus.
Dr. Kandel’s groundbreaking research into the molecular basis of higher cognitive functions has been central in discovering that learning produces changes in behavior by adjusting the strength of particular connections between nerve cells. These discoveries of how cellular and molecular mechanisms contribute to learning and memory storage have provided key insights into learned behavior with immense implications for understanding human cognitive function in health and disease. [From Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Eric Kandel Joins NeuroFocus Advisory Board.]
Kandel may be the biggest name on the Neurofocus advisory board, but that group includes other heavy-hitters as well:
…Robert Knight, M.D., Director of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley and a Humboldt Prize winner in Neurobiology. Other Board members include Dr.’s Gerald Zaltman, Stephen Kosslyn, and Rajiv Lal of Harvard University; Earl Miller, Ph.D., Picower Professor of Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ravi Parmeswar, Managing Director, Global Consumer & Marketplace Insights & Client Advocacy at Citi; Hans-Jochen Heinze, M.D., Director of the Leibniz Institute of Neurobiology and the Department for Behavorial Neurology, in Magdeburg Germany; Anna Christina Nobre, Ph.D., Director of Brain & Cognition Laboratory and the Centre for Real-Time Brain Imaging at the University of Oxford in England; Leon Deouell, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology at the Hebrew University; Mark D’Esposito, M.D., Professor of Neuroscience and Chief Editor of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, the pre-eminent journal in human brain research; Barry Herstein, general manager North America and chief marketing officer for PayPal, and Dr. Adam Gazzaley, director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at the University of California, San Francisco.
An advisory board, of course, is distinct from a firm’s board of directors. It has no power of governance, but can serve as anything from a serious source of technical and business guidance to mere window-dressing. Looking at the star-studded group of advisors Neurofocus has assembled, I expect that they will indeed tap this amazing assemblage of brain power. One outcome I’d hope for is that drawing academics like Kandel into the field will result in more academic research and published work evaluating the effectiveness of various neuromarketing techniques.
Kandel’s joining the Neurofocus board is good news for the firm, and good news for neuromarketing.