As much as 95% of our decisions are made by the subconscious mind. As a result, the world's largest and most sophisticated companies are applying the latest. If You Understand Brain Basics, Youll Sell More As much as 95% of our decisions are made by the subconsciousmind. As a result, the worlds largest and most. “Inside the Buyer's Brain is a breakthrough book for professional service firms. It turns the challenge of winning business on its head by asking simply,. 'What do.
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DOWNLOAD PDF THE BUYING BRAIN “Dr. Pradeep makes the case for the potential of the dynamic new field of neuromarketing as a multifaceted marketing . Part I: Introducing the Buying Brain; Part II: Engaging the Buying Brain The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind. Part 1. Introducing the Buying Brain. Chapter 1. $1 Trillion to Persuade the Brain. 3. Chapter 2. Neuromarketing Technology. 7. Chapter 3. Your Customer's Brain.
Just at that moment, a security guard rounds the corner, and the men flee. But, our sense of sound is more than P1: In fact, all mental functions can be divided into subfunctions that work interdependently to give us a representation of consciousness and self. The new 60 is not the old With men, the idea is to get to the point. How about Listerine mouthwash?
The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind Editor s: Pradeep Dr. First published: Print ISBN: All rights reserved. Author Bios DR. Pradeep holds many U. Free Access. Summary PDF Request permissions. Pradeep is the world's leading neuromarketing researcher, pioneering the application of neuroscience in marketing, advertising, and messaging.
Pradeep holds many U. Part One: Introducing the Buying Brain. Neuromarketing Technology. Your Customer's Brain is Years Old. The Brain in Ten Minutes. The Boomer Brain is Buying.
The Female Brain is Buying. The Mommy Brain is Buying. The Empathic Brain Is Buying. These research methods can work reasonably well when used to capture facts recounted by participants. But not so much when it comes to probing how consumers truly felt about or remembered something. It is extraordinarily difficult for people to describe in precise words the emotions that they experienced when exposed to a stimulus.
We are asking our conscious mind to reconstruct what our subconscious mind recorded, and translate that into specific language that accurately reflects how we felt or what we remembered at an earlier point in time. Traditional market research must try to work around this structural shortcoming, plus a couple of others. Focus groups can be influenced by one or more strong-voiced, opinionated participants.
So the third element in the birth of neuromarketing has been the fundamental need in the market research world for more accurate, reliable, and actionable knowledge in order to make more informed business decisions.
This need is made all the more urgent by ever more competitive companies and economies. Combine this need with the exponential growth in scientific knowledge of the brain, the advancement in computer technology, and the challenges of existing research approaches, and the advent of neuromarketing appears nothing less than inevitable.
Happily, here again neuroscience supplies the answer. Traditional research methodologies require substantial sample sizes to approximate statistical validity. Courier Westford, Westford, MA Neuromarketing Technology 11 In sharp contrast, neurological testing achieves more scientifically sound, rigorously reliable, and actionable results—and requires far smaller sample sizes to do so.
While the human brain differs in some respects—for example, between men and women, or young children and seniors—the fact is that our brains are far more alike than they are different. Because our brains are so remarkably alike, a thorough and scientifically sound neuromarketing research project requires about 10 percent of the test subjects required by conventional surveys. No matter how large the sample size may be, conventional research results are also vulnerable to a basic neurological fact: The process of accessing that stored information and translating it into a physical response actually causes the brain to alter its original response.
NeuroFocus measures at the stage of the cognitive timeline before that alteration occurs. Alphabet Soup, with a Side of Biometrics As with any new field, the terminology, technology, and methodology associated with what is now commonly referred to as neuromarketing can be daunting and confusing to nonscientists.
And a third methodology that really has nothing to do with neurological measurement per se, but is often thrown into the mix especially by its practitioners, who dearly love to embrace all that is great about the brain, without actually measuring it at all!
EEG As you now know, this acronym stands for electroencephalography. It is completely noninvasive and comfortable. Neuroscience laboratories worldwide have used EEG technology for decades.
Courier Westford, Westford, MA The Buying Brain For full-brain coverage, which again is the sole scientific standard that any reputable EEG-based neurological testing company relies on, EEG sensors are embedded in a lightweight cap closely resembling a typical swim cap and deployed in high-density arrays.
We do so for several reasons. Many areas of the brain are responsible for several functions, and because of this, we rely on full-brain coverage to know exactly which regions are operating simultaneously and in concert in response to a specific stimulus. If you only measure a very small number of areas, you are going to miss this essential element of interconnectivity— and your results will be woefully inadequate by any recognized neurological standards.
Sensor placement is key as well. A classic example is eye blinks. Muscle movements like blinks can generate up to times the electrical voltage that brainwave activity creates—so you can see that it is critical in the analysis phase to screen for and eliminate that noise, to ensure that what is being analyzed is only the pure brain activity data, uncorrupted by muscle activity or other extraneous signals. Relying exclusively on full-brain testing assures not only that brainwave activity across all the relevant and interconnected regions of the brain is being captured, but also that sufficient overlapping data streams are being acquired to allow for artifact removal, and still have more than enough brainwave data to conduct accurate analysis.
To put this into perspective, the importance of full-brain testing is reflected in the fact that NeuroFocus discards as artifact as much data as some other EEGbased neuromarketing companies collect in their full set of data. We combine this full-brain EEG testing methodology with sophisticated eye-tracking equipment that records exactly where a person is looking while experiencing a stimulus. A test subject is scanned by lying down in a long, narrow, tube, surrounded by extremely powerful magnets.
Activation of these magnets produces electrical fields, which computer imaging converts to reveal inner body structures, or in fMRI applications, brain functionality.
In short, fMRI measures the increase in oxygen levels in the flow of blood within the brain. Hence, it can accurately indicate when activity in a certain area of the brain is increased. When neurological activity increases, the brain calls for added oxygen-bearing blood to fuel that activity—and fMRI scans pick that increase up.
The shortcoming of fMRI technology for marketing research purposes is that it can take up to 5 seconds for that added blood supply to reach that specific area of the brain. Additional shortcomings for fMRI today include its cost—the equipment, specialized testing facilities, and trained staff cost many millions—and the demands on the person being tested: Only one subject can be tested at a time, and each subject must remain prone and completely motionless throughout the testing procedure, or the entire session will be invalid.
If there is head movement of as little as three millimeters, it can render test results useless. So fMRI, while scientifically sound and medically valuable as a diagnostic tool, currently has specific structural drawbacks that limit its effectiveness as a marketing research methodology.
Having said this, I do see significant potential of fMRI as the technology improves. Reflecting this belief, NeuroFocus recently obtained the core patent underlying the use of fMRI for neuroimaging purposes in marketing research.
Courier Westford, Westford, MA The Buying Brain Biometrics This is an overall term that represents measurements of physiological responses in the body—not directly in the brain—to external stimuli we experience with our senses. Examples of biometric measures include heart and respiration rates, eye movements, blinking, galvanic skin response GSR , facial muscle movement, and body movements.
That is, the brain may issue an order to the body well before the physiological effect actually occurs. In an ideal world, we want to know when the order is issued, not just when it is carried out. Similar to the temporal problem with fMRI measurements, this lag time is a definitive shortcoming. Various human physical systems not only respond at different rates in comparison to each other; physiological responses in general can be dissimilar between different individuals; and even within one individual the complex of response rates may vary depending upon a whole host of factors fatigue, medical conditions, environmental influences, and so forth.
There are simply too many variations in the timing to do so. To sum up: Biometrics do not delineate between specialized brain responses. They provide a secondary, time-lagged, and confounded measure of arousal. They cannot stand alone as reliable indicators of emotion or cognition. This is not to say that biometric measurements cannot be useful. They can definitely serve as secondary, peripheral confirmations of what the brain has already registered and responded to.
But make no mistake: And EEG is exactly that: The direct measure of electrical activity in the brain, registered at the true speed of thought.
In other words, biometric response does not necessarily correspond with cognitive response, at either conscious or subconscious levels. Courier Westford, Westford, MA Neuromarketing Technology 15 The brain is where the initial, and most complex and meaningful, responses to stimuli are formed. More specifically, the subconscious level of the brain is where elements that are essential to marketing success such as initial product interest, purchase intent, and brand loyalty are formed, and where they reside.
The preceding explains why the most accurate and reliable measurements are made at the subconscious level of the brain, relying on full-brain EEGbased testing, and using biometrics for what they are: Travel back with me , years or so, when newer, larger prefrontal cortexes in early man first previewed the modern brain we all share today. Life is nasty, brutish, and short.
Competition for food is fierce. Predators are fast and omnipresent. To survive, the relatively slow and weak humans develop a secret weapon: At around the same time, the human trachea descends into the throat to make vocalizations more distinct and communications suddenly very effective.
Communication is honed and increases in importance with the evolving social system and the need for cooperation. The ability to determine friend from foe is crucial in this nascent society, as is the ability to predict what someone will do lie or tell truth, cooperate or attack. This is all good news for the hominids, bad news for their prey. Our rise up in the food chain begins as our brains become larger to accommodate these 17 P1: Courier Westford, Westford, MA The Buying Brain critical new skills of working in cooperative groups, planning, hunting, and remembering.
But, in a classic catch, there is a price to pay. As brain size increases, so must the skull that carries it. If the skull continues to grow in pace with the rapidly evolving brain, the pelvis of the females will need to be so wide that they will no longer be able to run. Plus, that gorgeous new brain requires significantly more oxygen, glucose, and blood than previous versions, making it more expensive to operate over time.
Advertisers take note: A complicated ad that requires cognitive resources will likely be ignored by the brain. So as you balance the complexity of an ad with ease of processing, lean toward ease. In-store designers and Web and storefront designers, keep in mind that simplified organization and ease of cognitive processing trumps clutter and complex hierarchies. So evolution offers a twofold compromise: First, the large brain begins folding in on itself, creating grooves and valleys to fit within the skull see Figure 3.
Helpless and dependent, human babies require their mothers to stay put, at least for some time. They require fathers to provide for the mothers. They require group cooperation and an increasingly complicated social structure to support them. Because of the need to operate in a complex social group, the brain continues to evolve and grow in size, developing empathy, deception, altruism, and the building of coalitions. This big, complex brain separates us from every other animal on Earth and gives us extraordinary capacities like linear thinking, complex language P1: Photo used with permission from istockphoto.
Large, complex brains exist in other species such as some whales, dolphins, great apes, chimpanzees, and orangutans. These mammals are typically highly social also, have long lives with long gestational and developmental periods, living in complex groups that hunt together and form life-long bonds.
They also require planning and memory to hunt, adapt, and mate successfully. As humans work and live in small groups, natural selection favors greater intelligence. We grow smarter still until the brain, around , years ago, reaches its current size and configuration. It becomes exquisitely attuned to its social and environmental needs.
Always alert for predators, forever searching for food, warmth, shelter, and suitable mates to pass on genes, the human brain—the same model we share today—developed hard-wired abilities and responses honed to the survival of the species. Encounters were filtered and filed primarily via six human emotions: The prefrontal cortex the most advanced part of the brain , began conducting its symphony including long range planning, storing and planting food, and hunting and finding animals in season , learning socially-appropriate behavior and task switching.
Soon it launches humans into a new world beyond daily survival into a dance of possibilities—featuring representations of objects further removed in time and space and manipulated with logic and emotion.
This big new brain absorbs and exudes culture, bringing itself to full modernity. Figurative art, music, self-ornamentation, trade, burial, and consciousness of an afterlife become imbedded in—the society, which begins to thrive rather than just survive. The human brain is emotional at its very core. While women process messaging with more emotion than men, both genders must be engaged emotionally for a message to be remembered and acted upon.
Advertisers must uncover the key emotional triggers their product inspires and pinpoint them in their messaging. Package designers must carefully imbue their designs with palatable, even visceral, emotive imagery and shapes.
Merchandisers must make the experience of shopping an emotionally engaging, self-satisfying one if they seek repeat visits. Traditions develop and concepts, ideas, patterns, folklore, and customs are passed down through generations. Eventually, small, tightly bound groups begin to migrate, to explore, to adapt. One hundred thousand years later, they—we—have conquered the Earth, and are beginning to explore the planets and galaxies that surround it. Day One And it all started with the debut of our large, multilayered brains, first in evidence millennia ago.
On a typical day on that dry savannah, you awake with the sun, hungry and perhaps cold. Your goal-oriented brain propels you to seek food.
Grabbing your spear, you go out, and away from your shelter. Your anxiety level is high; your senses are on alert, ears monitoring every crunch of dry grass; eyes scanning the horizon; nose filtering the scents of animals, water, and plants; your mouth is dry, and every muscle is tense and at the ready.
Your breathing is fast and your heart rate is elevated. This type of pressing, urgent search mode prompts the brain to scan for novel or precisely-attuned messages or images that satisfy its consuming goal. Something is moving in the tall grass.
Is it friend or foe? You freeze, hold your breath, and wait. Soon, a tail switches and a leopard rises to meet your gaze. In blazing speed, your brain calculates your next move. The leopard is faster than you are. Should you flee? Your spear is deadly and you have not eaten in days. Do you fight? In milliseconds, the answer is determined.
The leopard, too, is hungry, starving from the drought. In her eyes, you see stark determination as the big cat growls softly, showing you her teeth. Her whiskers tremble as she moves into high alert mode.
She made her life-anddeath decision the moment she rose to meet you from her hidden spot in the tall grass. You are two predators, each deadly, each hungry. Only one of you will survive this confrontation. The fighting is brief but ruthless. Wounded and bleeding, you manage to drive the spear home. As the leopard collapses, your body is flooded with endorphins, a feel-good hormone that produces feelings of euphoria. Your mouth waters at the prospect of food. When you limp back to your shelter, the members of your tribe greet you with joy, prepare your prize for eating, and mend your wounds.
The reward circuits in your brain light up as the feeling of pride and accomplishment settles deep into your psyche, driving you to go out and hunt another day. The P1: So what? Physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted, you fall into a deep, restorative sleep. And a new day dawns. Same Brain, Different Day This morning, you wake to the sound of an alarm buzzing.
You are warm and comfortable. Instead of focusing on finding food to ensure your survival, you examine your refrigerator to see which option has the fewest calories. Checking your e-mail, you see that a contract that should have been signed lingers in Legal.
Exactly as you did when faced with hunger in the savannah, your anxiety rises, you become tense and hyperalert. Your brain urges you to seek relief. You grab your cell phone and laptop and begin your commute. Sitting in traffic, your brain feels hunted. Horns blast and your amygdala fires the part of your brain that responds immediately to stress , your blood pressure rises, and your breath becomes shallow and fast. Messages assault and seduce you without relief. The radio plays.
The stock market is down. Your sense of security is shaken again. Irritation grows as other cars attempt to squeeze into your space.
You masterfully outmaneuver and do not allow others to outpace you. Arriving at work, you gather your electronic spears, and walk from the parking deck. Along the way, a group of young men appears, sweating and shaking, demanding money and all of your electronics.
Your defensive instincts swing into action. You yell and try to move around the men. Confronted, they are now angry rather than just desperate. Now they want your life, not just your laptop. Your heart pounds and your muscles tremble. Just at that moment, a security guard rounds the corner, and the men flee.
You collapse in relief. But hours, days, and weeks later, your brain replays the event. You dream about it in symbols every night. Your fear is heightened and your safety is threatened. And unlike your earlier self, you do not run or P1: Instead, you enter your office and sit. You interact with your colleagues all day, in well-spoken struggles for influence and power. When you emerge, night has fallen and blinking signs surround you.
Your brain fights to make sense of the many messages hurtling toward it see Figure 3. Figure 3. Your brain constantly struggles to make sense of a flood of messages and images. Photo by Bart Penfold P1: Some of the more relevant or novel messages reverberate in your hippocampus to be stored more permanently in your cortex and throughout your brain.
When the brain is exposed to too many messages, or interrupted in its drive to complete a task, it purposefully drives distracting messages or images into the background so that it can focus on the task at hand. The brain can ill afford to attend to each note of the cacophonous barrage it encounters. Frustrated, the brain ignores all of the messaging, which has run together to form an irritating diversion. Whenever possible, position your message or product in scenarios without clutter.
If clutter is unavoidable in your crowded category, make sure your message, image, package, or product is clean and clear, and uses white space and simple, direct messaging to offer a breath of fresh air to the frustrated brain viewing it. Arriving home, you turn to one of your three screens perhaps all of them , and monitor messaging for the rest of the night read more about multimedia screens in Chapter You fall into a restless sleep, which is essential for your memory to consolidate important information that may help you adapt tomorrow.
Cavewoman in a Car Pool As you see here in Chapter 3 and in Chapter 5, the brains of men and women are very different. They evolved to serve best the needs of each gender as early human society developed. So, in the service of equality, let us look at how a typical female brain experiences two typical days—, years apart.
Day One You wake weary with a hungry newborn in your arms. You feed and clean your baby, and then set about finding some food for yourself. With the child always in tow, you venture out into the area around your dwelling. The other women, adolescent girls, and children of your tribe soon join you. When the children sleep, one or two women guard and comfort them, while the others continue to gather grains, roots, and occasionally, small rodents or snakes.
Yet they do not attack larger, dangerous animals. As their large prefrontal cortex knows, P1: The band of women and children spend the day gathering food, communicating, and in general supporting each other but if a person can sneak or lie —use deception—to gain an advantage that may be beneficial to her survival and genetic fitness, she will.
The women tend the sick and use their superior empathic skills to know what they need. As she nurses the child throughout the day, oxytocin flows through her system, keeping her calm, even slightly sedated, and most certainly deeply, thoroughly devoted. The female brain is hard-wired to seek out community and uses this enhanced empathic ability to foster it.
When presenting a message, package, product, or store environment to a largely female audience, engage her empathic mind.
As the shadows lengthen, the men of the tribe return. One has made a large kill that will provide vital protein and calories for his family. The women celebrate and reward this hunter and they become cautious and timid around the frustrated hunters, careful not to anger these larger, now irritated and aggressive males. At the same time, the women carefully notice which of the men would be a better mate, the more successful hunters, and purposefully associate with them to father their children.
As the small group shares its food of the day and hears the stories of the hunts that provided it, you settle next to your mate, sleeping baby always in your arms.
Same Brain, Different Day You wake to your alarm and quickly shower and dress. Your brain has evolved to multitask, just as your ancestors did while gathering food, caring for children, and guarding their friends. You are a master of efficiency. The female brain is designed to multitask. With many more connections between her right and left hemispheres than a typical male brain, the female brain juggles tasks, emotions, logical input, and to-do lists with ease.
See Figure 3. Used with permission from istockphoto. A wardrobe drama ensues with your daughter, with tears and frustration leading the way from house to car.
Your superior empathic skills read her distress and dissolve the problem quickly. You turn around, now late and frustrated, to drive by three more houses and endure the disapproving stares of the moms who load their now-tardy kids into your car.
You unload the children at school and head for the freeway. Aggressive drivers edge into your lane, horns blast, and brake lights flash quickly. Your heart pounds, your anxiety peaks, cortisol floods your system.
Your brain has prepared you to deal with imminent danger and a probable attack. And it does so twice a day, every day—in every commute. You go to the office, hurrying in, breathless and late for your first meeting. As you present to your colleagues, part of your brain is drawn back to your children. Did you remember to pack fruit? Is the runny nose an allergy or the flu? You hunker down to your work, flying through requests and proposals, your multitasking brain accessing both hemispheres effortlessly.
She is sick. Your children will be waiting alone at school in 30 minutes. Your brain is now flashing alarm signals to your entire system. The children must be protected. You pack your bags and leave early, again, to the disparaging expressions of your boss and teammates. Again, your brain warns you: Ostracism from the group is a dangerous consequence.
You pile your electronics back into your car and repeat, quickly, the trek home. Come on! Your children are sullen and angry. Yet your brain craves the stimulation and comfort of their presence. You return home at 5: You P1: Courier Westford, Westford, MA The Buying Brain hurry them to their homework, phone for pizza delivery, and open your laptop to continue the work of the afternoon.
After a minute dinner break, you and your children move to separate rooms to complete your separate tasks. You start a load of laundry and make calls for another parent to cover you again at pick-up. Your husband returns somewhere in the middle, and before returning to your separate work, you fill each other in briefly. He makes a quick trip to the grocery store while you unload the dishwasher. Exhausted, you fall into bed at midnight, and dream of symbolic threats and attacks as your brain struggles to make sense of your day.
Compared to her ancient predecessor, the modern female brain has much more on her plate. Let your brand, product, or store become a networking hub for your prospects and customers.
Provide your female customers with Twitter or Facebook updates and links, in-store cooking lessons, chat rooms, and other resources to help her feel more connected to her world—and your brand or product.
In fact, one school of thought wonders why our brains created environments for which they are ill-suited. Why, for example, would a highly-evolved, successful hominid create a world with the stressors ours embodies? We are not content with what is, and seek ever-better solutions.
Diseases have been eradicated, magnificent art has been created, the human genome has been decoded, and we can communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world, in seconds. How do we soothe and seduce it? How do we send it messages that are important enough to be noticed and remembered? How do we stand out from the amazing barrage of sensory stimuli to be the one product or brand that makes sense and is embraced by the brain? More importantly, how do we start treating our customers as the smart, evolved people they are?
But with game-changing improvements in EEG consumer testing and interpretation coinciding with huge leaps in computer algorithmic and analyses capabilities and, of course, the burst of knowledge and experience both have allowed us, we can now know with certainty, what the brain likes and what it rejects. The brain is frustrated by: The Neutral Brain At their emotional core, the brains of modern humans are remarkably alike. They respond similarly to key stimuli and react along the same lines to messages.
The most primal, emotional sections of our brains react at a pure, precognitive level, in milliseconds. They are honest and unambiguous, unaffected by language, education, or culture. The universality of the human brain allows us to make highly accurate projections and draw extremely specific conclusions and recommendations based on the results we obtain from capturing and analyzing brainwave activity. Novelty is the single most effective factor in effectively capturing its precious attention.
Novelty recognition is a hard-wired survival tool all primates share. Whether looking for prey or berries or suitable mates, our brains are trained to look for something brilliant and new, something that stands out P1: Breaking through the clutter in this way helps products stand out at the shelf and elevates a great logo from a sea of competing symbols and letters. To be embraced, a consumer touch point must first be noticed. In Chapter 12 you can find more about novelty, how to achieve it, and what it means to the buying brain.
Eye contact is particularly important to a social species such as ours. The trick is to find out exactly what those are, and exactly the best ways to present them to each consumer group. EEG testing in particular is moving this goal from pipe dream to reality every day. But first, it is important to understand the workings of the brain itself. Back from the Brink As little as 70, years ago, there were as few as 2, mating pairs of humans.
Eventually, their numbers recovered enough for the small isolated tribes to reunite and form larger, supportive and, sometimes, warring groups, punctuated by dynamism, stasis, and equilibrium. Today, there are 6. The brain is determined to protect these resources. Make your interaction quick, clear, and interesting. The brain loves puzzles and humor. Use white space and clear, simple imagery and copy, particularly if your product lives in a crowded, loud category.
To apply neuroscience—the study of the brain—to the consumer marketplace, we must begin with a better understanding of the brain itself. Easily the most complicated organ, and one of the most complex systems in the universe, the human brain warrants lengthy tomes dedicated to its mysteries. For our purposes, however, allow me to provide you with an introductory tour of the brain and how it works in your daily life, in your relationships, in your business, and in the why of what and how you and your customers buy.
Yet a great deal begs to be discovered: How does the brain produce the delightful individuality of human beings, their personalities, their talents?
These lofty questions are zipping through your brain—alongside your shopping list and your knowledge of how to tie your shoes. Every behavior, every intention, every dream begins in the brain. The human brain is a network of a hundred billion individual cells, called neurons. Complex and intertwined, those neurons, each electrically charged, could be compared to an endless, sparkling display of stars across a clear, cold night sky.
But the metaphor is incomplete. Imagine instead that every one of 33 P1: Courier Westford, Westford, MA The Buying Brain those stars is pulsing with electricity, communicating with other star systems through a complex interplay of electrical signals and brain chemicals.
Now imagine that each star migrated to its particular place in the universe, pulled by its target system. Imagine further that every newly energized, purposeful star system sets in motion every aspect of your humanity, from breathing and balance, to creativity and insight, to charity and love.
It sets us apart from all other species by allowing us to walk on the moon, to compose symphonies and sonnets, to fall in love, and to ponder the universe. Neurons are the basic working units of the brain and the central nervous system, designed to transmit information to other nerve, muscle, or gland cells.
Neurons consist of a cell body, dendrites, and an axon see Figure 4. The cell body contains the nucleus and cytoplasm of the cell. The electricallyexcitable axon extends from the cell body to the target and often gives rise to many smaller branches called dendrites.
These dendrites extend from the neuron cell body and receive messages from other neurons. Synapses are the contact points where one neuron communicates with another. So if you look at it from another vantage point, a neuron or a neural system is a one-way traffic light, receiving electrical impulses from another neuron, transporting them along the axon, and dispersing them at the target, where neurochemicals and electricity prompt or prohibit movement of that target.
As neurons transmit Figure 4. NeuroFocus, Inc. Courier Westford, Westford, MA The Brain 35 electrical impulses along their axons which range in length from a tenth of an inch to three feet or more! These small but highly predictive, sometimes chaotic and noisy, and at other times regular electrical changes allow us to measure with precision how the brain reacts to any stimuli, from medical conditions to marketing messages.
But more about that later. We have a bit more to learn about the brain in light of recent scientific breakthroughs. So, back to the neuron.
This change, called an action potential, then passes along the membrane of the axon at speeds of up to miles per hour. At this dramatic speed, a neuron can fire impulses up to about 1, times a second. Neurotransmitters are released by nerve terminals and bind to receptors on the surface of the target cell. These receptors then act as on-and-off switches for the next cell. There may be tens of thousands of such connections on a neuron modifying the target cell, which has to compute inputs from many cells that contact it—tens of thousands of connections, a thousand times a second in a binary and algorithmic computational dance.
How Neurons Gather into Functional Areas of the Brain Neurons connect with each other and with distant muscle and gland cells. These connections form trillions of specific patterns that re-form, grow, and migrate over the course of our lives.