Go shopping with the brain


Go shopping with the brain
Shopping is a pleasure born in the brain. This is what some US scientists have discovered with new research.

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Our brain has an area dedicated to shopping. It is not known if there is also a specific area for end-of-season sales, what is certain is that in a recent research scientists from Carnegie Mellon University (Pennsylvania), Stanford University (California) and MIT Sloan School of Management (Massachusetts) have succeeded for the first time in predicting, observing the functioning of brain circuits, whether a subject will acquire a certain product or not.
The pleasure of buying
The research has examined twenty-six volunteers subjected to magnetic resonance which were presented, via a monitor, various objects that could actually be purchased with $ 20 at their complete disposal. While the subjects viewed a product of their liking, a specific area of ​​the brain that presides over the anticipation of the perception of pleasure, the "nucleus accumbens", was activated. When instead the price was excessive, the medial prefrontal cortex, associated with the evaluation of gains and losses, was deactivated. Studying this operation, scientists were able to predict the behavior of the subjects: in fact, when the pleasure area was activated, the purchase decision always corresponded.
The economy starts from the brain
The study is part of a new line of research called "neuroeconomics", a discipline halfway between neurology and economics that aims to probe the mental and neurological processes underlying our expenses. If previous studies had already shown that there are areas of the brain that preside over financial gains and losses, today it is clear that even shopping stimulates these areas. It would therefore be a perception of pleasure opposed to one of annoyance at the base of our expenses.
Credit Card Danger
But the discovery does not end there. Scholars have in fact noticed another interesting detail: the purchase by credit card, able to reduce the perception of loss, would produce a lesser sense of expense. This could prove to be a danger for people with behavioral disorders that force them into compulsive spending.
(News updated January 8, 2007)