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Neuroreport. 2007 Jan 22;18(2):141-5.

Favorite brands as cultural objects modulate reward circuit.

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  • 1Department of Neurology II, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany.


On the basis of the hypothesis that brands may function as reward stimuli, we investigated brain responses to favorite brands. Participants viewed brand logos while we measured cortical activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Results revealed activity in the striatum for favorite brands that positively correlated with sports and luxury characteristics, but negatively with attributions to a brand of rational choice. Reduced activation of a single region in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was demonstrated when viewing the most beloved brand, possibly suggesting reduced strategic reasoning on the basis of affect. The results propose that brands that have been associated with appetitive stimuli owing to marketing efforts engage brain networks similar to those engaged by artificially associated reward stimuli. Moreover, social stimuli may function as secondary inducers of reward mechanisms.

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