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Forum Explores Consent, Ethics And Consumer Neuromarketing

Forum Thursday Explores Consent And Neuromarketing


Uma Karmarker, assistant professor, Rady School of Management and the School for Global Policy at UC San Diego


Photo credit: UC San Diego

UC San Diego neuroscientist Uma Karmarker is pictured in an undated photo.

Tracking eye movement and reading brain waves have become tried and true techniques used by advertisers to home in on consumer preferences for everything from chips to cars.

Companies use neuroscientific techniques like eye tracking, encoding facial emotions and electroencephalogram, or EEG, which measures brain activity, to get more information about how people react to certain advertisements, products or packaging.

UC San Diego neuroscientist Uma Karmarkar said even though the majority of this research is conducted with the full consent of participants, there are ethical concerns about the practice of consumer neuroscience.

"There's information that falls under neuromarketing, or consumer neuroscience, that technically could be recorded, such as where you're looking when you're looking on a computer screen, or what you're looking at from a camera. And I think that raises these issues right now on whether there should be regulation on what kinds of data and what kinds of information should be collected," Karmarkar said.

Just this summer a Canadian company suspended its use of facial recognition software in mall directories after public outcry over the lack of consent.

Karmarker will take part in a discussion on that topic at a forum hosted by the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology called "My Brain Made Me Buy It? Neuroethics of Advertising" at 5:30 p.m., Thursday at the downtown central library.

Karmarker joins Midday Edition on Wednesday


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