By Akshat Jain
Since inception, the endeavor of human race has always been to strive for the ways most advantageous for his survival. In order to better equip with the challenges of life, it is quintessential to study the brain processes that control all biological, psychological, physiological operations as well as everything a human comes in contact with. Brain controls complex operations and is the sole definer of who we are, and why we do what we do. A body part that contains 86 billion neurons, and innumerable neural connects, is of unfathomable potential.
In bygone times, it was considered almost impossible to study the neural changes in the brain with relation to its function. However, now, with the use of modern imaging tools such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), magneto-encephalography (MEG), it is now possible to map brain physiology and functioning. The impressive research in brain studies has created hype about extraordinary brain studies that could benefit almost every sector of society from education to disease control, to business, psychology, marketing, and consumer neuroscience. In essence, cognitive neuroscience, which “aims to find out how brain structures influence the way we process information and map mental cognitive functions to specific areas of the brain”, states Oliver Sussman in an article published online; has become a definitive part of the growing sectors and major professions.
Neuroscience has enabled researchers to know a great deal about convoluted anatomical processes. Behavioral as well as genetic mechanisms are being studied and researched under the light of neuroscience. Moreover, decision-making capabilities, behavioral and psychological changes as well as changes during task performance are being studied. The knowledge body has gained considerable momentum in this field during the last two decades, and its impact is being researched now with relation to different fields. One such field is psychology.
Although, neuroscience exhibiting physical properties, and psychology, demonstrating mental processes seem two unrelated fields; however these two conjoin to answer questions related to cognition, behavior, brain development and distortion. Furthermore, the imaging techniques have rendered psychologists to make well informed and proof-based decisions related to psychological problems such as schizophrenia, dementia, drug abuse, depression, anxiety, Parkinson’ disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and autism. Psychology has gained a lot of benefit from neuroscience, because, instead of making decisions and prescribing patients with supplements or therapies based only on subjective and objective reality, now they are able to look at the MRI scans and make knowledgeable decisions. Hence, neuroscience has become an integral part of psychology and researches are being conducted in this area.
Another important area of research is education neuroscience. Where neuroscience has enabled to look at the brain scans, the problems related to attention deficit, memory, concentration, genetics, or dyslexia can be studied and solutions can be found out. An article published in Frontiers in Psychology states that the practical use of neuroscience in education can train teachers to understand the psychological processes of their students and hence, teachers would be able to comprehend and support ‘educational and socio-emotional development’ of their students. Likewise, mental health and neuroscience is being researched for well being of people undergoing challenging situations. Mental health issues are on the rise in the modern world. “Neuroscience can help us understand the underlying molecular factors behind mental disorders, as well as where and how to focus research and treatment”, cites an article Mental health is a global issue – here’s how neuroscience can cross international boundaries, published online. The early the problem is detected using MRI, the better equipped psychologist will be to find cure and treatment of a mental disorder.
Another and particularly most researched area with relation to neuroscience is business and consumer neuroscience. The terms ‘consumer neuroscience’ and ‘neuromarketing’ are usually used interchangeably. Fabio Babiloni defines consumer neuroscience: “the most accepted definition of consumer neuroscience or neuromarketing is that it is a field of study concerning the application of neuroscience methods to analyze and understand human behavior related to markets and marketing exchanges.” Traditional marketing methods to gain consumer attention have become outdated and neuroscience is enabling researchers to directly look into the brain processes of consumer when they make a decision related to purchase. The enhanced understanding of consumer psychology is beneficial for producers to make products that consumers are most certainly attracted to, and buy.
Marketing methods and advertisements are usually haughty and sentiment based, because consumers are prone to buy products that incite nostalgic feelings among customers. These manipulative techniques and strategies are because of increase in research and knowledge body of consumer neuroscience. Even, the myth of ‘buy button’ having been found also circulates. However, a study What advertisers can do and cannot do with neuroscience conducted by Peter Kenning negates this myth. Moreover, the knowledge of consumer preferences and choices related to a certain product is extremely advantageous for business and production companies. Similarly, neuroscience of leadership, to effectively inspire and drive employees, is of extreme value to businesses. A well informed and trained leader can inspire and lead a business successfully. Hence, strategic techniques and concepts derived from consumer neuroscience and business neuroscience pave the way for a well handled industry.
Bringing together neuroscience and other fields could lead to real gains in a particular field. No matter which area of research is, neuroscience provides valuable data and information that researchers can make use of may be to cure a disease, to treat mental health issues, to understand student/teacher psychology, to comprehend consumer behavior for industrial benefit and the list can go a long way. There are many scholars who are working in the field of Neuroscience, scholar Akshat Jain in IIT Delhi is working in the same area to open new avenues. The neuro research has mostly been conducted in ‘psychology and behavioral sciences’, according to a study titled as “Rapid Growth in Neuroscience Research” published in the journal frontiers in psychology. The knowledge of brain processes, functions and activation of cortial areas during a certain task, is used to collect appropriate information and is applied to solve any contention either practical or theoretical. Hence, the availability of real time concrete data is an opportunity to tune into the sea of information that ‘brain, the engine of human body’, carries; and it is no wonder then that there is an impulsive rise in neuro research now a days.
(The author is a Research Scholar, the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. The scholar is a graduate of BITS Pilani and pursuing his research studies in the field of Neuroscience & Marketing. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)