This Christmas, as with every holiday season, we’re bombarded with ads and find ourselves succumbing and buying things we didn’t think we wanted. Now the organization Commercial Alert says universities are using their medical equipment and research funds in neuromarketing experiments, to figure out how to push consumers’ “buy buttons.”

They accuse Emory university of using their MRIs “to identify patterns of brain activity that reveal how a consumer is actually evaluating a product, object or advertisement?and then apply this knowledge to help marketers better create products and services and to design more effective marketing campaigns.”

They say that, “?Hucksters have enlisted research labs to map the brain’s activation responses in order prod desires for particular products?It seeks, in the words of Forbes magazine, to ‘find a buy button inside the skull.’ It sounds like something that could have happened in the former Soviet Union, for the purposes of behavior control. Yet it is happening right here in America, at a major university?”

The Emory study is a project of the BrightHouse Institute for Thought Sciences, which is the leading neuromarketing research firm. The institute is part of the BrightHouse advertising agency, whose clients have included Coca-Cola, Pepperidge Farm, K-Mart and Home Depot. The Institute?s founder is Emory Business School professor Joseph Alden Reiman, who is also a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction. Critics maintain he’s using his knowledge to figure out how to addict consumers to products such as Coca-Cola.

What’s especially ironic is that Emory was founded by the Methodist Church in 1836, with a mission to “create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity.”

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