Neurological correlates allow us to predict human behavior

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https://www.the-scientist.com/features/n...vior-67948

EXCERPTS: . . . Neural measures are valuable because people have difficulty articulating the motivations for their actions. As a result, survey-based research can lead organizations that supply goods and services to waste time and money offering people the wrong things. To improve market assessments, my team and I have worked to identify what neurological correlates are able to forecast human behavior. We even launched a startup and developed a software platform so that companies can use neural responses to predict which TV shows and movies will be hits and which songs will reach Billboard’s number one, as well as to identify learners who have effectively understood education and training and to drive up productivity after virtual meetings. While scientists are just beginning to use neurological measurements to predict what people will do, the technology holds great promise to improve people’s lives.

[...] Animal research over the last 40 years has established that oxytocin mediates social behaviors. ... Scientists by personality and training are skeptics. Even before publishing our findings relating the endogenous release of oxytocin to trustworthiness, I was concerned about causation. To demonstrate that oxytocin caused trust-related behaviors, I had to get oxytocin safely into human brains [...] Think of synthetic oxytocin as inducing the same physiological effect one would experience when meeting a friend...

[...] We coined the term “immersion” to denote the neurological state of attention and emotional resonance during an experience that results in an observable behavior. ... Immersion is a neurological state of attention and emotional resonance that predicts what people will do after an experience, often with 80 percent or greater accuracy. We identified it by comparing neural activity in people who took an action after an experience versus those who did not...

[...] Entertainment only works if one cares about the characters in the narrative. Movies put this effect into overdrive by combining visuals, music, and emotional displays. Neurologically, it is odd that people who are cognitively intact and sitting in a movie theater (or on an airplane) will cry or laugh at a flickering image. I wanted to know if the movies and videos that elicited such emotional responses were provoking oxytocin release...

[...] I started a company called Immersion Neuroscience and, together with my collaborators, built a software platform that allowed anyone to measure immersion. ... Combining arousal and the effect of oxytocin into a measure of immersion, the pattern looked like a classic narrative arc, with the intensity of immersion peaking at the video’s climax and declining as the video resolved. Our subsequent studies of hundreds of audio and video stories showed that the narrative arc is an effective way to sustain immersion and motivate actions—which makes sense, as it’s been used to teach and entertain for thousands of years.

[...] In order to establish whether or not oxytocin plays a causal role in people’s decisions to donate to charity, our next study administered synthetic oxytocin or placebo to people before they watched 16 European public service announcements (PSAs) in English ... Building statistical models from the electrical signals that constitute immersion, our predictive accuracy in 2015 was 82 percent...

[...] Rather than lab experiments, Immersion’s clients are performing field studies. These studies have shown that immersion can identify top-rated reality TV shows with 88 percent accuracy and that immersion while listening to music three months prior to release had a nearly perfect correlation with post-release Spotify streams. Client usage has also found that information recall two weeks after a presentation has a high positive correlation with immersion. Since we launched our platform, a major professional services company, Accenture, has been measuring immersion during the training they provide to employees and has used immersion data to ensure all learners benefit from training. Real-time feedback on immersion is increasingly important as training and education go virtual and instructors are not in the same room with learners... (MORE - details)

RELATED (Business Wire): Immersion Neuroscience Uncovers What Folks Really Love With a Little Help From PR Mavens at Bob Gold & Associates
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