MRI scanners use a very strong magnetic field to measure brain structure and function. They provide detailed pictures of brain anatomy but can also be used to produce pictures of brain activity while volunteers look at images, watch videos, listen to stories, make decisions, or even engage with a virtual reality environment. The data show which parts of the brain become more active when participants perform a task in the scanner. When used correctly, the results can reveal hidden cognitive and/or emotional responses that can be used to understand and predict behaviour outside of the scanner.
EEG measures the brain’s electrical activity (or brain waves) using electrodes placed on the scalp and provides excellent information about timing. The recorded brain waves can be analysed to reveal evoked response potentials (ERPs) or spectral power, both of which can index particular attentive, emotional, or memory responses. Unlike MRI, EEG is portable which offers many advantages when measuring brain activity as people interact and/or move freely around their environment.
TMS uses a strong electromagnet to safely and non-invasively stimulate a region of the brain. This allows us to temporaily change the way a brain region responds, providing a unque opportunity to test the contributions that area makes to specific behaviours. For instance, TMS has been used to show that a region of the brain involved in processing brand information when consumers make decisions is critical for integrating emotional information during decision making.
Biometric sensors measure a number of the body's responses including heart rate, ecto-dermal activity, and temperature. These physiological signals can offer unique insights that go beyond information that people are consciously aware of. For example, changes in heart rate synchronization within a group can predict team effectiveness and increases in ecto-dermal activity (also known as galvanic skin response) index emotional arousal.
Eye-trackers measure eye movements and track how a person's gaze moves through an environment. The eyes are constantly moving as we inspect objects around us and knowing exactly where a consumer is looking can tell you something about what they are thinking about and, when combined with other measurement methods, can be useful for understanding how customers respond to your products and services.