n. The neurological study of a person's mental state and reactions while being exposed to marketing messages.
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When we reached the M.R.I. control room, Clint Kilts, the scientific director of the BrightHouse Institute, was fiddling away at a computer keyboard. A professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory, Kilts began working with Meaux in 2001. Meaux had learned that Kilts and a group of marketers were founding the BrightHouse Institute, and she joined their team, becoming perhaps the world's first full-time neuromarketer. Kilts is confident that there will soon be room for other full-time careers in neuromarketing. "You will actually see this being part of the decision-making process, up and down the company," he predicted. "You are going to see more large companies that will have neuroscience divisions."

The BrightHouse Institute's techniques are based, in part, on an experiment that Kilts conducted earlier this year. He gathered a group of test subjects and asked them to look at a series of commercial products, rating how strongly they liked or disliked them. Then, while scanning their brains in an M.R.I. machine, he showed them pictures of the products again. When Kilts looked at the images of their brains, he was struck by one particular result: whenever a subject saw a product he had identified as one he truly loved — something that might prompt him to say, "That's just so me!" — his brain would show increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex.

Kilts was excited, for he knew that this region of the brain is commonly associated with our sense of self. Patients with damage in this area of the brain, for instance, often undergo drastic changes in personality; in one famous case, a mild-mannered 19th-century railworker named Phineas Gage abruptly became belligerent after an accident that destroyed his medial prefrontal cortex. More recently, M.R.I. studies have found increased activity in this region when people are asked if adjectives like "trustworthy" or "courageous" apply to them. When the medial prefrontal cortex fires, your brain seems to be engaging, in some manner, with what sort of person you are. If it fires when you see a particular product, Kilts argues, it's most likely to be because the product clicks with your self-image.
—Clive Thompson, “There's a Sucker Born in Every Medial Prefrontal Cortex,” The New York Times, October 26, 2003
KELLY: Marketers have used everything from focus groups and dream therapy to skin tests. Using science to map the unconscious mind of consumers is the latest trick, and it has some Ivy League backing. Neuromarketing was born here at Harvard University. In the late 1990's, marketing professor Gerry Zaltman and his associate began scanning people's brains for corporations. He's stopped that work now, and he's concentrating on another method [ ZMET] to probe the subconscious mind of consumers. …

KELLY: Companies didn't want to talk to us about ZMET, and it remains a secret who's using neuromarketing. That doesn't surprise Allan Middleton.

MIDDLETON: Some of these techniques are controversial because they are trying to get at people's less than totally conscious and less than totally rational response. And in a way, in a lot of people's minds, that sends up signals of subliminal communication and manipulation.
—Margo Kelly, “The science of shopping,” Marketplace (CBC TV), December 03, 2002
2002 (earliest)
The founders of the BrightHouse Institute for Thought Sciences in Atlanta believe the future of marketing research lies in something they call "neuromarketing," a technique that combines science and business.

BrightHouse Institute has begun using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a technology traditionally used in health care to create images of activity within the brain, to reveal how people feel about things, such as products and commercials, more accurately than those people can explain their feelings in focus groups and surveys.
—“'Neuromarketing' firm launched by Atlanta ad veteran,” Atlanta Business Chronicle, June 14, 2002
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