Using Single-Neuron Recording in Marketing: Opportunities, Challenges, and an Application to Fear Enhancement in Communications
Posted: 26 Dec 2013 Last revised: 21 Dec 2014
Date Written: November 25, 2014
This paper introduces the method of single-neuron recording in humans to marketing and consumer researchers. First, we provide a general description of this methodology, discuss its advantages and disadvantages, and describe findings from previous single-neuron human research. Second we discuss the relevance of this method for marketing and consumer behavior, and more specifically how it could be used to gain insights in the areas of categorization, sensory discrimination, reactions to novel versus familiar stimuli, and recall of experiences. Third, we present a study designed to illustrate how single-neuron studies are conducted and data from them are processed and analyzed. This study examines peoples’ ability to up-regulate (i.e., enhance) the emotion of fear, which has implications for designing effective fear appeals. The study shows that the firing rates of neurons that were previously shown to respond selectively to fearful content, increased with the emotion enhancement instructions, but only for a video that did not automatically evoke substantial fear. We discuss how the findings help illustrate which conclusions can, and cannot, be drawn from single-neuron research.
Keywords: neuroscience, emotions, consumer communication, fear appeals, climate change
JEL Classification: M31, M37
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation