“Emotional” Valence of Visual Stimuli – 17 MS!


“We borrow the term valence from chemistry. Instead of referring to an atom’s positive or negative charge, we use it to describe the positive or negative perception associated with an image.

Valence is simpler than emotion, or preference, or value; it should be thought of as a very rough, very rapid and automatic snapshot of perception that the brain computes in order to estimate likability of an object. Instead of thinking about what constitutes valence, it is perhaps more helpful to think why we even see valence.

…In the lab, we have shown that most people detect a negative valence as early as 17 milliseconds after the participant sees the gun. Continue reading


Description of Physiology of the Stress Mechanism


The Stress-Response Cycle
The human stress-response cycle is a complex neuroendocrine response triggered by perceived or real threats from the environment or internal stimuli. The sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis are primarily responsible for the
physiological changes associated with a stressful state (Selye, 1937).  The initial catecholamine response triggered from the sympathetic nervous system involves a rapid release of epinephrine and norepinephrine into the bloodstream and throughout the body, inducing the changes characteristic of the ‘fight or flight’ response—increased heart rate and respiration, pupil dilation, and more blood flow to the skeletal muscles, vigilance, and so forth…… Continue reading

No “Decision” – “Decision Making”


This is the model we are buying based on our research.  No room, or need from pretty much all of our subjective experiences and current models of consciousness, choice, value, executive function, self/personality, etc.

“I think/feel, therefore I buy” — Probaby Not


Here’s a good rule of thumb for brain stuff, psychology, econ, etc – what we all naturally , talk about, tell ourselves and each other and our subjective experiences, feelings, etc are probably bad indicators of how our brains operate to control behavior.  It seems more likely that the opposite of what we believe is true!  So critical thinking is really necessary.  It’s hard.

Let’s, briefly, look at our beliefs about why we ourselves, and everyone else buy stuff.

Pretty much everyone, including most economists, scientists, policy folks, business folks and marketers – go along with the naive realism view that the subjective experiences we all chat about cause buying behavior.  That is likely an illusion.  A set of illusions that waste a lot of marketing time and money. Continue reading

How “Decisions” Really Get Made – Instantly


The research this picture is based on debunks pretty much all of our ideas about how humans, and other animals behavior.

This is a great simple illustration of how behavior is triggered in between 50 – 150 millieseconds, copletely unconsciously and likely without any influence of consciousness, thinking, emotions, evaluation, higher level process or most of the things we believe make a difference. There simply is no time. Neurons picking up stimulation compete to “win” and direct the body and behavior.

Practical Neuroscience: “Scientific evidence that you probably don’t have free will”


At some point business and policy makers are going to have to accept these scientific facts.  It may take a generation of old thinkers dying off, however.  The below post is excerpted from the full post here @ io9.com.

Scientific evidence that you probably don’t have free will

Humans have debated the issue of free will for millennia. But over the past several years…experiments reveal that our subjective experience of freedom may be nothing more than an illusion. Here’s why you probably don’t have free will.

Continue reading

How the Brain Handles Different Goals


The best-laid plans: How we update our goals based on new information

Princeton University researchers have identified mechanisms that govern how the brain incorporates information about new situations into our existing goals…. updating goals takes place in a region known as the prefrontal cortex, and appears to involve signals associated with the brain chemical dopamine. …”We have found a fundamental mechanism that contributes to the brain’s ability to concentrate on one task and then flexibly switch to another task,” Continue reading