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Photos: Your brain on ads

Researchers study the brain activities of people watching ads that aired during the Super Bowl, some with interesting results.
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1 of 3 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Neuron activity

This brain scan shows mirror neuron activity in the right posterior inferior frontal gyrus--indicating identification and empathy--while someone watched the Disney/NFL ad.

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2 of 3 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Ventral striatum

This brain scan shows ventral striatum activity--indicating reward processing--while someone watched the Disney/NFL ad.

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3 of 3 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Amygdala activity

Remember the end of the FedEx ad, when the caveman is crushed by the dinosaur? Researchers looked at the activity in the amygdala, a tiny brain structure critical for emotional processing in general, especially responding to threat and fearful stimuli.

This scan shows a big jump in amygdala activity when the dinosaur crushes the caveman. The scene looks funny and has been described as funny by people who watched it, but the amygdala still perceives it as threatening, another example of the disconnect between verbal reports on ads and brain activity while viewing them.

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