Neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience: contributions to neurology

Andrija Javor, Monika Koller, Nick Lee, Laura Chamberlain, Gerhard Ransmayr

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter, comment/opinion or interviewpeer-review


Background: 'Neuromarketing' is a term that has often been used in the media in recent years. These public discussions have generally centered around potential ethical aspects and the public fear of negative consequences for society in general, and consumers in particular. However, positive contributions to the scientific discourse from developing a biological model that tries to explain context-situated human behavior such as consumption have often been neglected. We argue for a differentiated terminology, naming commercial applications of neuroscientific methods 'neuromarketing' and scientific ones 'consumer neuroscience'. While marketing scholars have eagerly integrated neuroscientific evidence into their theoretical framework, neurology has only recently started to draw its attention to the results of consumer neuroscience.Discussion: In this paper we address key research topics of consumer neuroscience that we think are of interest for neurologists; namely the reward system, trust and ethical issues. We argue that there are overlapping research topics in neurology and consumer neuroscience where both sides can profit from collaboration. Further, neurologists joining the public discussion of ethical issues surrounding neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience could contribute standards and experience gained in clinical research.Summary: We identify the following areas where consumer neuroscience could contribute to the field of neurology:. First, studies using game paradigms could help to gain further insights into the underlying pathophysiology of pathological gambling in Parkinson's disease, frontotemporal dementia, epilepsy, and Huntington's disease.Second, we identify compulsive buying as a common interest in neurology and consumer neuroscience. Paradigms commonly used in consumer neuroscience could be applied to patients suffering from Parkinson's disease and frontotemporal dementia to advance knowledge of this important behavioral symptom.Third, trust research in the medical context lacks empirical behavioral and neuroscientific evidence. Neurologists entering this field of research could profit from the extensive knowledge of the biological foundation of trust that scientists in economically-orientated neurosciences have gained.Fourth, neurologists could contribute significantly to the ethical debate about invasive methods in neuromarketing and consumer neuroscience. Further, neurologists should investigate biological and behavioral reactions of neurological patients to marketing and advertising measures, as they could show special consumer vulnerability and be subject to target marketing.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Neurology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2013 Javor et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • neuromarketing
  • neurology
  • consumer neuroscience
  • trust
  • reward
  • ethics
  • pathological gambling
  • compulsive buying


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