Surprising Broca

Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at 1:00am

The average American is confronted with more than 3,000 advertising messages a day, making it next to impossible for advertisers to break through the clutter.

That is, unless one knows a bit about how the brain works.

The human brain is a lot like a computer in that it can only process and hold so much information before it malfunctions. Lucky for us, our brains are equipped with a mechanism that keeps us from suffering from information overload. It's called Broca's area.

Broca's area of the brain plays a critical role in the transference of information from the logical left brain to the emotional right brain.

Data gathered by the senses proceeds to the parietal lobe. From there it makes its way to Broca's area, otherwise known as the "toll booth" of the mind.

Broca's area is a sentinel for surprise. In other words, Broca seeks the unpredictable. Information that is "predictable" is essentially ignored and erased by sleep. Information that surprises Broca is allowed to pass to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, where conscious awareness, or "working memory," takes place. It is then permitted to pass through the corpus calossum to the right hemisphere, which is where feelings and emotions originate.

Advertising that connects on an emotional level is more likely to persuade than advertising that doesn't. But, no emotional connection can be made if Broca won't open the gate.

We live in a society of individuals who reject most advertising. This is mainly because many advertisers fail to make their ads interesting.

Thanks to Broca, millions of dollars are spent on advertising without a return on the investment.

Is your advertising predictable - or does it have a surprise for Broca?

Filed under: City Business
Tagged: