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Functional neuroimaging applications in marketing: some methodological and statistical considerations

Mohamed M. Mostafa (Gulf University for Science and Technology, Kuwait)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 2 September 2014



The purpose of this paper is to review recent applications of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other neuroimaging techniques in marketing and advertising, and to present some methodological and statistical considerations that should be taken into consideration when applying fMRI to study consumers’ cognitive behavior related to marketing phenomena.


A critical approach to investigate three methodological issues related to fMRI applications in marketing is adopted. These issues deal mainly with brain activation regions, event-related fMRI and signal-to-noise ratio. Statistical issues related to fMRI data pre-processing, analyzing and reporting are also investigated.


Neuroimaging cognitive techniques have great potential in marketing and advertising. This is because, unlike conventional marketing research methods, neuroimaging data are much less susceptible to social desirability and “interviewer’s” effect. Thus, it is expected that using neuroimaging methods to investigate which areas in a consumer’s brain are activated in response to a specific marketing stimulus can provide a much more honest indicator of their cognition compared to traditional marketing research tools such as focus groups and questionnaires.


By merging disparate fields, such as marketing, neuroscience and cognitive psychology, this research presents a comprehensive critical review of how neuroscientific methods can be used to test existing marketing theories.



M. Mostafa, M. (2014), "Functional neuroimaging applications in marketing: some methodological and statistical considerations", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 343-372.



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