Neuromarketers Using MRIs to Predict the Next Teenie-Bopper Sensation

If Rebecca Black's Friday was so gawd-awful, why does everybody know the lyrics? New research from Emory University suggests our our brains may like certain tunes even if we don't consciously realize it.

Scientists and marketers alike have spent years searching for the mind's "buy button," the area of the brain that influences purchasing decisions and brand recognition. Now, researchers believe that button lies within the nucleus accumbens region of the brain and may help predict a song's future success. As Jason Castro of Scientific American explains:

In 2006, they placed 32 children, aged 12 to 18, in an MRI scanner and had them listen to a wide variety of short song clips downloaded from MySpace.com. The scientists took scans of song-related activity in the children's brains, and had the children report how likable each song was. After identifying brain areas whose activity was correlated with song likability, the scientists patiently sat on the data for about 3 years.

At the end of the three years, the researchers tallied the sales data from each song over that period and compared it to the amount of activity and neural signature in the nucleus accumbens. What they found wasn't a dead-on accurate guarantor of a song's future success but still showed a loose correlation between increased brain activity and increased sales. Essentially, it measured a song's "catchiness." Not only that, it was actually a better predictor of a song's success than the children's own responses that were reported immediately after the MRIs. [via Scientific American top art courtesy of Shutterstock]