Perception of Sensory Information

With analytic perceptions, visual and auditory systems use a divide and conquer strategy. Features like color, shape, and motion are processed along distinct neural pathways, but perception requires more than simply perceiving the features of objects. When gazing at the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, we do not have the impression of blurs of color floating among a sea of various shapes. We perceive unified objects : the green grass of the champ de Mars, the iron frame of the tower and the deep-blue sky surrounding it.

This famous monument looks the same whether we view it with both eyes or with only the left or the right eye. Therefore, a change in position may reveal a different part of the champ de Mars, but still recognize that we’re looking at the tower. This also remains true if we stand on our head – the retinal image may be inverted, but we attribute this change to our inverted viewing position.

Have you ever wondered how you can recognize someone face in a blurred picture or identify an object just by seeing a small part of it ? Well, numerous researchers have asked themselves that same question.

Let’s start with object perception. This type of perception depends on the analysis of the shape of a visual stimulus, even though information like color, texture, and motion contribute to normal perception. Elmer The Elephant will, like in our childhood, illustrate this for us – despite the irregularities in how this character is depicted, we have little problem in recognizing them. We may never have seen a multicolored elephant, but our object recognition system can still discern the essential features. In this case, object recognition is derived from a perceptual ability to match an analysis of shape and form.

Now this is all good and well if the world is on a two dimensional picture, yet we are all in the face of a variable world, where we need to recognize objects countless situations. And our object constancy refers to this amazing ability.

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The previous image shows three drawings of a door, each having little in common with respect to sensory information reaching the eye. And yet, we have no problem identifying the door in each drawing and discerning that all three doors are same. Therefore object constancy is essential for perception. Now, imagine how difficult life would be if we could not recognize familiar things or people unless we gazed at them from a specific point of view.

While object recognition must overcome different sources of variability – the viewing position, the retina projection of shape, the changes in lighting, and the surrounding objects. It also must accommodate the fact that changes in perceived shape can reflect changes in the object. As a result, object recognition must specific enough to support object constancy, but also specific enough to pick out slight differences between members of a category.

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Social Neuroscience of Rejection – Why it hurts to be left out

If you listen closely to the ways in which people describe their experiences of social rejection, you will notice an interesting pattern : we use words representing physical pain to describe these psychologically distressing events. For example, we all know the feeling of not being picked for a workgroup, invited to a party, or even asked to join a conversation taking place among co-workers. In other words, we are all social beings, we like to be part of a group.

Picture this simple social experiment for a moment. You’re playing an online game where the players pass a ball among themselves. Every player gets a turn to throw the ball around. Yet, this doesn’t last – it wouldn’t be an experiment if it was, now would it – you begin to realize that the other two players are pitching the ball only to themselves, and not to you. After a while, you’re being completely ignored.

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Now, imagine this situation in your everyday life, and two people know suddenly decide to treat you like you’re invisible – how do you think you’d feel ? Understandably, you would be confused. However, in this virtual game, you don’t know the other players and, you might suspect the game is rigged. Yet, you still feel unhappy.

Dr. Lierberman and other researchers in this field like Dr. Naomi Eisenberger have conducted research on the neural mechanisms of social pain. By watching people’s brain activity during social pain and compare it to brain activity during physical pain, researchers have managed to know if we actually experience pain when we are hurting emotionally. It turns out that the same part of the brain that is activated when we are feeling physical pain, lights up during social pain. Therefore, saying a break up is painful or that an insult is hurtful is accurately describing what you might be feeling and what is going on in your brain.

As a result, if emotional and physical pain actives the same regions on our brain, could painkillers reduce the pain of social rejection?

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What do Chameleons, Brands and Mirror Neurons have in common ?

Picture this simple scenario for a moment. You’re at a wrestling match and suddenly one of your favorite fighters gets kicked between the legs. Like most of us, you cringe – especially if you are a man. Could you stop yourself from cringing? Probably not because you can picture yourself in that same situation and imagine how much it hurts. So why do our bodies respond in this way ?

The Chameleon Effect

The “chameleon effect” is the brain-to-brain imitation of postures, mannerisms, and facial expressions, for example it’s what causes adults to smile when they see a baby smiling. Therefore this is an automatic matching that causes humans to connect, even if they’re not aware of the connection.

These mirror neurons are cells in our brains that enable us to understand actions, intentions, and feelings. They are in many areas of our brains, and fire when we perform an action as simple as grasping an apple, but also when we see others doing it.

It all started in the mid-1990s with an ice cream cone at a research lab in Italy. Giacomo Rizolatti and his team had implanted electrodes in the brain of a monkey in order to map out which neurons controlled the monkey’s movements. One of the researchers had brought an ice cream cone back from lunch, and as the monkey watched him lift the cone to his mouth there was a spike in the monkey’s neural activity. The astonishing discovery is that the neurons that fired were the same neurons the monkey used to move his own arm. The monkey’s brain seemed to be having a physical experience just by watching someone have a one.
Mirror Neuron Experiment

In actual fact, our mirror neurons, also called empathy neurons (V. Ramachandran), fire when we experience an emotion and similarly when we see others experiencing an emotion, such as happiness, fear, anger, or sadness. When we see someone in pain, for example, our mirror neurons fire instantaneously. In other words, we don’t need to think about the other person being in pain, we actually experience it firsthand.

If you see an expression, a face which is laughing or is sad, you understand emotion, but it has nothing to do with your feeling of emotion. – Giacomo Rizzolatti

Therefore the chameleon affect enables us to socialize and communicate with others as we read their facial expressions. Yet we don’t seem to be caught up in others experiences, and that is du to our ability to dampen this effect.

Interestingly, human mirror neuron networks are stimulated in response to actions which are apparently meaningless, which means that we all have a tendency to spontaneously model any and all movements by others. (Giacomo Rizzolatti)

So What Has This got To Do With Adverts ?

As we’ve seen, cells in the human brain activate when you observe or perform an action. The problem is, these mirror neurons can’t distinguish between observation and performance. So when you see a wrestler get kicked, your mirror neurons fire-up and your brain thinks you just got kicked. If this is the case, couldn’t we use these mirror neurons to influence people with adverts ?

This actually means that when you see someone perform an action in front of you – in a video, for example – you will think you’ve just performed that same action. And therefore, if you think you’ve just performed an action, you’ll probably be more likely to actually perform it. Why? Because you’re already thinking about doing it.

Nowadays, creating meaningful advertising is getting harder because there is a demand for more content and substance in advertising. As a result, some brands are leaning towards communicating more emotional brand experiences in a bid to hook viewers on a deeper level.

Products that engage people by helping them to feel as others do or to experience product usage, clearly have a greater ability to convince – and therefore the advantage. Demonstrating the use of a product has an important role in advertising because adverts that help us connect in this way are more likely to influence our choices.

There is a lot of opinion about mirror neuron advertising, some believe it’s just a theory whereas others say that this kind of advertising isn’t revolutionary – now we know more about why it works. Even so, when looking at past examples of adverts it becomes clear that “mirror neuron ads” at their purest are rarely found.

But, if we know that these so called “mirror neuron ads” are extremely effective, why aren’t there more of these kind of ads ? Also, if this chameleon effect works with adverts could it also work with pictures ? Could we use the “chameleon effect” on different parts of marketing, like sentences or logos ?

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Brandability – Where Recognizability Is The Key For Success

Consumer’s opinion of a product’s ability to fulfill his or her expectations is one of the most important traits a brand could have. Eventhough a logo may have little or nothing to do with the actual excellence of the product it needs to be easily recognisable and give a sense reliability.

Therefore what would the caracteristics be for an effective logo ? Could it be the colour, the shape, the placement, or even the meaning, for example ? Before anyhting else, the company’s public face (the logo) must be transferable to any medium that bears its brand—whether it’s a fleet of trucks, packaging, web adverts, or social media.

An effective logo is easily recognizable at a glance, both in color and in black and white, which means that a good logo should be able to work on a highway billboard and a Twitter avatar for example. As a consequence, if a copany’s logo relies on fine print, it won’t be as effective. In this article, we’ll be using a company’s logo that demonstrates brandability in any form – McDonald’s.

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The beauty of neuroscience and perception is that it doesn’t have to be complex to be effective. Now, let’s take a look at what makes this McDonald’s advertisement special. We will also show in the next few paragraphs how this campaign is noticeably influenced by science.

The left placement of the logo on the billboard actually helps our brains better perceive the brand faster. Research studies have proven that objects placed on the left side of our field of view are better processed using the right side of our brains and vice versa. This is because our optic nerves criss cross when they enter our brain, therefore the right side of our brain is better at perceiving images, and the left side of our brain is better at processing numbers and writing. The image placement and writing in this advert are placed in the best spots possible for our brains to process this information effectively and efficiently.

One of the most difficult things in marketing would be making an influential statement. This billboard speaks to a very common buying focus of consumers when it comes to food – organic food and nutrition. In just three words you are now aware a portion of chips is made of only potatoes, therefore it can only be nutritious. In other words, the easier it is to think about the message behind an ad the easier it is to act upon it.

Moreover, numerous neuromarketing research studies have shown that consumers respond better emotionally to more detailed foods they’re familiar with. In this case, the detailed and oversized potato and chips accentuate our familiarity.

Visually, lowercase is preferred text font because the brain likes consistency, which is du to the fact that when we read a properly capitalized text we’re prompted to look for more semantic meaning as though we were reading a textbook.

Finaly, we all know the human brain is extremely visual, so the fact that the images and font pop off the background are more helpful to perception. Our brain loves clear contrast, therefore shouldn’t we all take a page out of McDonald’s book and make a more contrasting advert ?

Nowadays, every company has an advertisement to catch our attention but because we’re so perceptually bombarded, nearly all of the advertisements turn into white noise that we end up ignoring.

Shouldn’t the goal for companies no simply be to catch our attention with advertising and marketing, but to have the consumer genuinely interact with your message ?

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