Messages can be conveyed through a variety of media such as written or spoken stories, movies, and advertisements. Their impact on human psychology ranges widely from what events we remember most easily to our choices about important foundational behaviors. Since the brain is the proximate cause of our actions, narratives have a direct impact on the neurobiological processes of both the senders and receivers of them. Understanding how narratives inform neurobiological processes is critical if we are to ascertain what effect narratives have on the psychology and neurobiology of human choices and behaviors. Yet, there is at present a lack of practical and non-invasive sensing platforms to understand, detect and present neural events triggered by narratives, ultimately leading to a predictive model of consumer behavior.
It has been previously shown, using fMRI and electrocorticography (ECoG), that narratives can evoke synchronized and time-locked activity in many brain areas across listeners when presented with the same stimuli. This neural synchrony has been shown to correlate with retention of events that occur in a narrative, as well as effective comprehension during a two-way dialog. Neural synchrony is also modulated in strength by the narrative content, in the sense that a cohesive narrative elicits stronger neural synchrony. As such, neural synchrony may be an important and valuable tool to assess the effectiveness of a story. However, fMRI and ECoG are not feasible in practice – they are not portable imaging modalities, they are expensive, and, in the case of ECoG, they are invasive.
Neuromatters is developing a portable, practical, and non-invasive sensing platform (using scalp EEG and other physiological measurements) to capture and decode neural activity elicited by narrative stimuli. The cognitive capture platform will be available as a service to aid in the design of optimal arratives/ads/movies and will be the first such tool to be validated in predicting behavioral outcomes for targeted demographics.
Neuromatters is developing the Cognitive Capture™ System (CCS), a software suite for comprehensive neuroanalytics of narratives. Its technologies rest upon Neuromatters’ proprietary modular architecture, which enables easy integration of/with sensors, simulation environments, analytics tools and neural decoding engines. CCS integrates the Neural Synchrony Toolbox™ (NST) with Cognitive Storyboards™ to provide a commercial-grade platform for extracting, decoding and tracking neural activity elicited by complex, realworld stimuli to predict behavioral outcomes, such as purchase intent, brand alignment, memory recall, or other business-relevant behaviors as stipulated by clients and thereby alter human behavior.
The Cognitive Capture™ System ultimately enables content-creators to produce engaging narratives by providing objective, quantitative and temporally precise measures of viewers’cognitive state throughout the duration of the story.
This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of 2014. If you would like to order the Neuromarketing year book 2015, 2016 or 2017 click here!