Neuroeconomics looks at the cognitive processes involved in economic decision making and often makes use of such imaging techniques as fMRI and PET scans of the brain. It is yet another tool to understanding behaviour, particularly the irrational behaviour that often drives market decisions. As such, many have suggested that it could be a useful tool in understanding brand interactions and selection decisions.
Any tools which add to our understanding are useful… but this raises a couple of issues as to whether it is asking the right questions. For known brands, we have two kinds of processing involved – high involvement processing (HIP), dealing with the declarative knowledge we have about a brand and low involvement processing (LIP) which has to do with our emotional connection with the brand values and our meta-knowledge of what the brand stands for. Both of these may be happening simultaneously. How do we separate the data… indeed should we? And which questions are being answered?
As in economics we may often make irrational brand decisions, then persuade ourselves in hindsight of their rationality.