Chapter 1

An intro to neuroscience

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What is neuroscience?

Lab coats on

Neuroscience is the study of the human nervous system, and combines physiology, anatomy, biology, cytology, psychology and mathematical modelling. Now, that’s a lot of big words and ologies. But, overall, neuro is a multidisciplinary science that seeks to understand the biological basis of learning, memory, behaviour, perception and consciousness.

A particular neuroscience application, sometimes known as neuromarketing, looks at how the brain influences behaviour in relation to the psychological processes and neural links that occur when we come into contact with brands, campaigns, consumer experiences and packaging. This allows us to understand the non-conscious response that humans have when they’re exposed to certain stimuli – in this case, a particular customer experience or piece of marketing.

Lab worker

The busy brain

Contrary to popular belief, humans use almost every part of the brain, not the 10% figure that is often misreported. Even while resting, our brain uses around 20% of our metabolic energy (UCL).
Besides the easy stuff, like regulating our bodies and keeping us alive, it’s in charge of every single decision we make. From fight or flight, to what to have for breakfast.

Faced with an unquantifiable number of decisions every day (some studies estimate around 35,000 but, in reality, it’s an extremely elusive figure), it’s no surprise that the brain takes shortcuts in a bid to save time and energy.

The majority of our decision-making processing occurs below the level of consciousness, and many choices become habitual, drawing on memories, intuitions, past experiences and emotions. It has been found that 95 per cent of purchasing decisions are subconscious, and most subconscious processing is emotional rather than logical, rational or deliberate. This means that, although the subconscious does not control us entirely, conscious choice is a minority in our daily lives.

This is where neuroscience can help.


Meet the experts


For this report, we’ve partnered with Think Beyond and their expert panel of neuroscience doctors. Across the team, Think Beyond boast decades of study and research experience in the field of neuromarketing, consulting and neuroscience – including customer experience analysis projects for large, global businesses.