Brain Scans Reveal Power of Super Bowl Advertisements

If you are wondering if the $2 million dollars advertisers paid per Super Bowl Commercial was money well spent, the New Scientist has an article up about a team of California neuroscientists who scanned the brains of five Super Bowl viewers to discover which parts of their cerebellum fired up during the commercials.

The researchers found that the ads produced variable effects in the reward-related areas of the brain, such as the ventral striatum and the orbitofrontal cortex. They also found that some commercials caused more activity in the brain regions known to contain “mirror neurons”, indicating empathy.

Previous studies have revealed that mirror neurons fire in an animal
s brain when it completes a task or sees a counterpart from the same species complete that same task….

One ad that succeeded in striking an emotional note, according to the study, was the commercial for a Michelob beer, which featured a woman playing American football with her friends. In an initial analysis of two of the five volunteers, the researchers found that this sketch caused mirror neurons in the female brain to fire, indicating empathy. But in the male subject the commercial produced activity in reward-centres of the brain.

Of course, even the researchers admit that their sample was too low to make any general observances, but it’s an interesting look none the less at the neurological interaction between the brain and a Michelob model jiggling and pouring beer all over her crisp, white t-shirt.