WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) – Brain scans may be able to predict what you will do better than you can yourself, and might offer a powerful tool for advertisers or health officials seeking to motivate consumers, researchers said on Tuesday. …
“On day one of the experiment, before the scanning session, each participant indicated their sunscreen use over the prior week, their intentions to use sunscreen in the next week and their attitudes toward sunscreen,” the researchers wrote.
After they saw the messages, the volunteers answered more questions about their intentions, and then got a goody bag that contained, among other things, sunscreen towelettes.”
“A week later we did a surprise follow up to find out whether they had used sunscreen,” Falk said in a telephone interview.
About half the volunteers had correctly predicted whether they would use sunscreen. The research team analyzed and re-analyzed the MRI scans to see if they could find any brain activity that would do better.
Activity in one area of the brain, a particular part of the medial prefrontal cortex, provided the best information.
“From this region of the brain, we can predict for about three-quarters of the people whether they will increase their use of sunscreen beyond what they say they will do,” Lieberman said.
“It is the one region of the prefrontal cortex that we know is disproportionately larger in humans than in other primates,” he added. “This region is associated with self-awareness, and seems to be critical for thinking about yourself and thinking about your preferences and values.”