Super Bowl brain scans with added hype

superbowl_amygdala.jpgThe ‘complete results‘ from the Super Bowl brain scans are online, and it does indeed seem as if the exercise has been mostly hype.

Cardinal sins:

1) Not giving the comparison conditions and experimental design. This makes the reported results essentially meaningless.

2) Interpreting brain activity in certain areas to mean a certain response from viewers, even when they actually report something else.

female subjects may give verbally very low ‘grades’ to ads using actresses in sexy roles, but their mirror neuron areas seem to fire up quite a bit, suggesting some form of identification and empathy.

Mirror neurons tend to fire when anyone else’s actions are viewed, there is no evidence that approval or liking of the person doing the actions has any bearing on the response.

3) Assuming activation in the ‘mirror system’ equals empathy.

4) Assuming activation of the amygdala is a measure of fear.

There is a big jump in amygdala activity when the dinosaur crushes the caveman… The scene looks funny and has been described as funny by lots of people, but your amygdala still perceives it as threatening

The amygdala can be active when someone experiences happiness or joy. Equally, it could have been active because people found the scene funny.

5) Finishing on an advert for the neuromarketing company involved.

Link to ‘Complete results’.
Link to previous Mind Hacks post on same.

One Comment

  1. jdee
    Posted March 6, 2006 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    THANK YOU! That whole thing rendered me near incoherent with pure annoyance (I read about it in the article at Seed Magazine which just compounds the awfulness by drawing even more baseless conclusions).

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