Eyes drive brain’s quick choices
CARNEGIE MELLON (US) — When we quickly grab a coffee mug out of a cluttered cabinet, the visual system unconsciously guides the brain’s choice, researchers say.
Published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, the new study hypothesizes that valence perception, which can be defined as the positive or negative information automatically perceived in the majority of visual information, integrates visual features and associations we have from experience with similar objects or features.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University say the findings may offer important insights into consumer behavior in ways that traditional consumer marketing focus groups cannot address.
For example, asking individuals to react to package designs, ads or logos is simply ineffective. Instead, companies can use this type of brain science to more effectively assess how unconscious visual valence perception contributes to consumer behavior.
“This basic research into how visual object recognition interacts with and is influenced by affect paints a much richer picture of how we see objects,” says Michael J. Tarr, a professor of cognitive neuroscience.
“What we now know is that common, household objects carry subtle positive or negative valences and that these valences have an impact on our day-to-day behavior.”
To transfer the research’s scientific application to the online video market, the research team is in the process of founding the start-up company neonlabs through the support of the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps.
The group is launching neonlabs to apply their model of visual preference to increase click rates on online videos, by identifying the most visually appealing thumbnail from a stream of video. The web-based software product selects a thumbnail based on neuroimaging data on object perception and valence, crowd-sourced behavioral data, and proprietary computational analyses of large amounts of video streams.
“Everything you see, you automatically dislike or like, prefer or don’t prefer, in part, because of valence perception,” says Sophie Lebrecht, lead author of the study. “Valence links what we see in the world to how we make decisions.”
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