What Is Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)?

fMRI measures the blood flow, known as the Blood Oxygen Level Dependent (BOLD) signal, that occurs during brain activity. This can tell researchers which parts of the consumer’s brain are active, and which are inactive during different tasks, such as viewing a certain product or brand image or when reading product or brand information. ​

What Is Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging FMRI Vision One

When to use fMRI

fMRI is a great technique to examine in detail which brain areas are active when a consumer engages with a particular product, brand or service. This technique should be used when you are interested in examining detailed emotional responses, the level of engagement, or how well they are able to recall a product brand or service. This method is the gold standard of brain activity measurement, affording detailed understanding of consumer emotions to certain stimuli. It is important to note that due to the nature of fMRI, users are unable to move during the recording, meaning although they can view many stimuli, they can only physically engage with the product, brand or service to a limited extent i.e., using a button press. This method is also very expensive as it requires a medical grade laboratory and MRI scanner technicians to conduct and is quite an invasive method.

Can fMRI tell us about emotions?

Yes, fMRI can be used to examine the activation of specific brain structures involved in emotional processing; such as the limbic system, a deep cortical system which is involved in basic emotional processing. If certain areas of the limbic system are active during a task, we can deduce an emotion is present.

Can it be done online?

No, fMRI recordings can only take place in person at a medical-grade laboratory with trained MRI technicians.

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Shopping Journey

A measurement of a consumer’s movement through a particular space using GPS technology. 

System 1 Thinking

System 1, developed by Kahneman (2011), refers to the brain’s processing of information quickly, instinctually and emotionally, and this is usually done unconsciously. The opposite to System 1 is System 2 which is responsible for slow, conscious, logical and deliberative thinking. ​​​​