Image credit Gary Dincher

Image credit Gary Dincher


Decisions decisions decisions. We make hundreds a day. Everything from whether to get out of bed, to making an offer on a new house, to which brand of jeans we want to buy is processed by the brain before we decide. 

Neuroscientists don't have the whole picture yet on how we make decisions but they do know about one part of the process - the reward system. Figuring out how to trigger a reward in your brain is key to selling product, and of course we all know that advertisers everywhere want to figure out the mechanisms underlying it. 

This week on Think About It we take a trip to the mall with Dr. Jacob Hirsh, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behaviour and HR Management at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Back at the studio Jacob helps us understand how environments, personality types and neural pathways of pleasure are related to how we decide. 

Research suggests that we create mental models of how the world works. Some we are born with and some we develop through experience. Neuroscientist Dr. Read Montaguedirector of the Human Neuroimaging Lab and Computational Psychiatry Unit at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute appears in this week's show to explain how we use mental models to weigh our options with when faced with making a decision.

Roberta also speaks with neuromarketer Diana Lucaci to unearth the ways in which companies like hers test our so-called true responses to products using fMRIs and other non invasive techniques. Companies are cropping up that turn to neuroscience to determine the emotional resonance of what they're selling in the minds of their target markets. 

But it all ties back to the greater question of how we decide. When it comes to choosing, is it more true that we are rational thinking creatures that sometimes feel? Or are we rather deeply emotional creatures that sometimes think? A little of both?

You decide.

*A correction that we'd like to make: in the broadcast Diana Lucaci's company was named incorrectly. The company name is True Impact Marketing.

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