2015 Society for Neuroeconomics Conference

Most people think of “neuromarketing” as a new phenomenon1, but the idea that marketing can benefit from brain sciences goes back a surprisingly long time. The first neuromarketing patent was obtained in 1997, by Gerald Zaltman at HBS. But it wasn’t until neuroeconomics started taking off around the early 2000’s that the broader marketing community started paying attention.

So it was great to be back at Neuroecon after a 2 year absence due to teaching conflicts. Here are some broader trends that I found particularly exciting:

  • pinkie_brain
    Animal models of “stuff that we used to think of as special to humans”. Not long ago, it seems that any discussions of animal cognition and behavior begins and ends with a defensive remark about the dangers of anthropomorphizing. By looking into the neural and molecular mechanisms, we can start critically test those tantalizing analogies that come out of surface similarities. We now sophisticated talks about prosocial behavior in monkeys and rodents, monkeys doing the marshmallow test, and (no joke, in all the good ways) a rodent stock market(!).

  • attention´┐╝
    Attention and decision-making. Someone recently mentioned that the most valuable commodity in the modern economy is your attention. But understanding how attention influences decision-making has proven incredibly challenging. So it’s exciting to see a number of talks and posters on this topic. There’s probably no better time in history to be studying these questions.

1An amusing exception to this comes from a LinkedIn comment in response to a neuromarketing article that goes something like, “The brain is so yesterday. Why don’t you write about microbiomes instead? That’s where the exciting stuff is at!” With friends like this, who needs enemies!