The Early Stages of Neuromarketing Development

On June 12, 2012

Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson has been called a neuromarketing guru and the ‘father of neuromarketing’ as a result of his pioneering research, which began, in the early 1980’s, while he was in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Sussex. He says: “I became interested in Quantified Electroencephalography (QEEG) while researching treatments for phobias, anxiety and stress at the University of Sussex. I became interested in using various types of biofeedback, including EEG, to help overcome these handicapping difficulties. Although what is now termed Neurofeedback has become widely recognised as a therapeutic tool in the thirty or so years since I began my work, at the time there was next to no suitable equipment available for providing such feedback. The one machine that was available was called a Mind Mirror and had been developed by Maxwell Cade and Jeremy Blundell. This displayed the difference in brain frequencies being monitored via a series of LEDs, those on the left of the screen representing signals from the left hemisphere while those on the right showed activity on the right side of the brain. The further out to the right or left of the screen the lights moved the greater the power or amplitude of the signal. The only way to record a session was to use a stereo tape machine and then watch it being played back on the screen. The device used is shown below in a modified form after it had been adapted to store the data on a computer.

Neuromarketing in the '80sPioneering studies. Measuring EEG responses to television commercials in 1980 using a modified Mind Mirror

“Developments in both EEG and computer technology during the ’80 made it increasingly viable to use this approach when training anxious individuals to develop a relaxed mental state at will. An interest in measuring EEG responses to television commercials arose from my need to find a suitable stimulus for use in a series of experiments. These 30 second long productions, each painstakingly created to be as attention grabbing, persuasive and memorable as possible proved ideal for my purpose, since they were both sufficiently long to tell a story yet sufficiently brief not to produce an unmanageable quantity of EEG data. My main problem was finding television commercials that my subjects would not have seen previously in the South of England.
A request for unscreened, at that time, commercials which appeared in an article about my work in the UK trade publication Marketing resulted in several advertising agencies sending me their yet to be shown commercials and these provided an extremely valuable research tool. The main advantage of QEEG as an adjunctive methodology in market research is that they offer real-time monitoring of how an individual’s brain is responding to all types of commercial message and offer researchers both unique insights and confirmation, or otherwise, of conclusions obtained by more traditional means. In the quarter of a century since those early studies the sophistication of both the hardware and software his uses for recording and analysing mental activity has improved exponentially.
Today Dr Lewis’s work encompasses both research into and the practical application of QEEG techniques in a wide range of commercial and training applications. He also has a special interest in brain training by enabling people to monitor and change their own brain activity using a technique known as neurofeedback.
In the ‘80s early research findings led him to write a book on this topic – The Alpha Plan – that was subsequently made into a BBC documentary for the QED programme. His work was also featured on the BBC ‘Tomorrow’s World’ programme (you can watch the show below, in order to see how it all started – it looks evolutionary for that time):

Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson is founder and Director of Research at the independent research consultancy Mindlab International, a best selling author, an award winning broadcaster and an international lecturer. Dubbed the ‘father of neuromarketing’ for his pioneering studies of analysing brain activity for research and commercial purposes, he currently specialises in non-invasive techniques for measuring human responses under real life conditions.
He and his team record a wide range of biometrics, including electrical activity in the brain EEG, in order to better understand what people are thinking and feeling while performing everyday activities. Instead of being confined to a clinic or laboratory, those taking part in his studies can work or play, go shopping, drive a car, take part in sports, watch TV, or even go on a date while wearing small and easily portable monitoring equipment.
Based on their research findings he and his team then provide reports for a wide range of commercial organisations and government departments around the world in addition to developing practical programmes designed to enhance human performance, combat stress and improve mental functioning (see www.themindlab.org and www.botau.com).

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