EEG for Optimizing Communication Processes

Audiences seem to forget 90% of business content after 48 hours and the little they remember is usually random information, not the information that you as the presenter want them to remember (Ebbinghaus, 1885). If you have ever found yourself in this situation and if you regularly generate and distribute business content, then this blog post is definitely for you.

In close collaboration with Memzy we are developing brain tools to help you generate memorable communication materials. How do we do this? 

In a previous blog post, we talked about what happens in the brain during memorable events. Now we use this information, together with our ExperienceLab platform, to identify various brain signals related to emotion and memory when people interact with various content types (e.g. mobile apps, videos, brochures, presentations, etc.). We translate these brain signatures into characteristics related to remembering content, such as engagement, motivation, attention, working memory, emotional arousal, and degree of pleasantness (valence). Once we have defined and computed these variables, we integrate them with the communication material under investigation in order to extract some valuable conclusions.

Valence-Arousal circumplex model of affect. Valence is depicted in the horizontal axis with values from unpleasant to pleasant, whereas arousal is depicted in the vertical axis with values from inactive to active.

For example, during a coffee scene in a video, viewer arousal is low and valence is medium, so the scene seems to provoke relaxation, low attentional demands, medium motivation and working memory. 


In addition to inserting the aggregated signal within a video (this can be implemented offline as well as in real time), we can also compute statistics across different scenes or between different visual techniques used in the artifact. This gives our clients the possibility to compare the cognitive and emotional impact of different media used during presentations (e.g. PowerPoint presentation vs. Handout) or identify moments of interest while participants are experiencing the same medium. 

For instance, in a recent experiment, 20 people watched a video for approximately 7 minutes while their EEG (electroencephalography) and ECG (electrocardiography) was recorded. After analyzing the signals offline and extracting the above-mentioned variables, we concluded the following (see figure below): the events labelled as ReturntoLoc, which corresponded to changing of scenes, resulted in the highest motivation (orange) across the whole video, while the most exciting part (highest valence and arousal) was the beginning of the video. Similarly, in the second internal monologue (InternalMon2) scene, the working memory (yellow) and attention (green) are the highest across the video. Combined with a high arousal (dark blue) and medium valence (light blue), this scene may be an indication of the highest surprise/interest. 

different-events-annotated-during-the experiment
In this plot, the x axis represents the different events annotated during the experiment, whereas the vertical bars correspond to the different variables. Each bar has a distinct color, the meaning of which is displayed in the legend. For instance, the dark blue bar corresponds to arousal, whereas the green to attention. Thus, the extracted variables (arousal, valence, attention, motivation, working memory) change values depending on the event. Each bar extends to the group mean, whereas the whiskers extend to the standard error of the mean.

Gathering all this information together, the interested client can make decisions on when to convey the message with the highest impact. In this particular example, conveying the message at the beginning of the video and repeating it later-on in an internal monologue scene is expected to increase the perceived impact.

This short example exemplifies that EEG analyses to determine a subject’s interest in promotional material can be invaluable for companies concerned with customer satisfaction. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in bringing more insights into the emotional world of your audiences, and together we can figure out the best analyses/representation for you.


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