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IEEE Pulse. 2012 May-Jun;3(3):24-7. doi: 10.1109/MPUL.2012.2189172.

Measuring emotion in advertising research: prefrontal brain activity.

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  • 1Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. rsilberstein@swin.edu.au

Abstract

With the current interest in the role of emotion in advertising and advertising research, there has been an increasing interest in the use of various brain activity measures to access nonverbal emotional responses. One such approach relies on measuring the difference between left and right hemisphere prefrontal cortical activity to assess like and dislike. This approach is based on electroencephalography (EEG) and neuroimaging work, suggesting that the approach/withdrawal (frequently but not always associated with like/dislike) dimension of emotion is indicated by the balance of activity between the left and right prefrontal cortex. Much of this work was initiated by Richard Davidson in the early 1990s. An early study by Davidson et al. measured brain electrical activity to assess patterns of activation during the experience of happiness and disgust. The authors reported that disgust was found to be associated with increased right-sided activation in the frontal and anterior temporal regions compared with happiness. In contrast, happiness was found to be accompanied by left-sided activation in the anterior temporal region compared with disgust. Early reports suggested that frontal laterality indexes motivational valence with positive emotions (happy, like) associated with left greater than the right frontal activity and vice versa. Although these findings appear to be consistent with personality traits (e.g., optimism pessimism), state changes in frontal laterality appears to index approach withdraw rather than emotional valence. Interestingly, the behavioral and motivational correlates of prefrontal asymmetric activity are not restricted to humans or even primates but have been observed in numerous species such as birds and fish (see [4]). Henceforth, we use the term motivational valence (MV) rather than the more cumbersome term approach withdraw.

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