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An investigation of the neural correlates of purchase behavior through fNIRS

Murat Perit Çakir (Department of Cognitive Science, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey)
Tuna Çakar (Graduate School of Big Data Analytics, MEF University, Istanbul, Turkey)
Yener Girisken (Department of Business Administration, Istanbul Altinbas University, Istanbul, Turkey)
Dicle Yurdakul (Department of Business Administration, Istanbul Altinbas University, Istanbul, Turkey)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 5 February 2018

Issue publication date: 20 February 2018




This study aims to explore the plausibility of the functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) methodology for neuromarketing applications and develop a neurophysiologically-informed model of purchasing behavior based on fNIRS measurements.


The oxygenation signals extracted from the purchase trials of each subject were temporally averaged to obtain average signals for buy and pass decisions. The obtained data were analyzed via both linear mixed models for each of the 16 optodes to explore their separate role in the purchasing decision process and a discriminant analysis to construct a classifier for buy/pass decisions based on oxygenation measures from multiple optodes.


Positive purchasing decisions significantly increase the neural activity through fronto-polar regions, which are closely related to OFC and vmPFC that modulate the computation of subjective values. The results showed that neural activations can be used to decode the buy or pass decisions with 85 per cent accuracy provided that sensitivity to the budget constraint is provided as an additional factor.

Research limitations/implications

The study shows that the fNIRS measures can provide useful biomarkers for improving the classification accuracy of purchasing tendencies and might be used as a main or complementary method together with traditional research methods in marketing. Future studies might focus on real-time purchasing processes in a more ecologically valid setting such as shopping in supermarkets.


This paper uses an emerging neuroimaging method in consumer neuroscience, namely, fNIRS. The decoding accuracy of the model is 85 per cent which presents an improvement over the accuracy levels reported in previous studies. The research also contributes to existing knowledge by providing insights in understanding individual differences and heterogeneity in consumer behavior through neural activities.



This paper forms part of a special section on Neuromarketing.


Çakir, M.P., Çakar, T., Girisken, Y. and Yurdakul, D. (2018), "An investigation of the neural correlates of purchase behavior through fNIRS", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 52 No. 1/2, pp. 224-243.



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