Neuroscience of branding

A group of researchers have used a functional MRI to map out the parts of the brain that respond to brand identity, showing how Pavlovian conditioning generates response to a brand-mark.

They developed a Pavlovian-type association by flashing a geometric shape on a computer screen and giving a squirt of juice into the volunteers' mouths. However, the volunteers did not realise that they were being conditioned in this way – they were simply told to press a button to indicate on which side of the screen the shape had appeared.

The team measured how the volunteers had become conditioned by measuring their anticipation of the juice squirts following an image by measuring the dilation of their pupils…

The fMRI scans revealed significant responses reflecting learning in the ventral midbrain and the ventral striatum. Crucially, they found that the strength of the response correlated with the volunteer's like or dislike of the juice.