Salience and choice: neural correlates of shopping decisions

Ambler, Tim; Braeutigam, Sven; Stins, John; Rose, Steven and Swithenby, Stephen (2004). Salience and choice: neural correlates of shopping decisions. Psychology and Marketing, 21(4) pp. 247–261.



Noninvasive brain imaging was used to observe 18 subjects, each making 90 choices of three brands on a virtual (video) supermarket visit. Package height provided a control for the main experiment. Brain activations in brand choice differed from those for height discrimination, and choice times were faster when one brand was more familiar. Brand choice appeared to involve silent vocalization. Decision processes took approximately 1 s and can be seen as two halves. The first period seems to involve problem recognition and here male brain patterns differed from female. The second half concerned the choice itself. No male/female differences were observed but a different pattern was evoked where one brand was familiar and the other two were not. The right parietal cortex was strongly activated in this case. This research pioneers new techniques using relatively few subjects and against a limited theoretical background. As such it must be classified as exploratory.

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