This is Your Brain on Print

Neuroscience Research Shows How Our Brains React to Printed Media

How do our brains respond to print vs. digital communications? It turns out our brains seem to love print, and there is a growing body of neuroscience that shows that print marketing affects us in powerful ways related to memory, recall, and enjoyment. Scientists are using neuroscience techniques like eye tracking and biometric measurements to gauge people’s initial reactions to physical media like paper-based ads.

“We started to see research in earnest in the late 2000s, and since then, we’ve seen the number of studies grow. It’s called the ‘neuroscience of print,’” says Heidi Tolliver-Walker in her article, Neuroscience and Print: Compiled List of Links. “Interest in this area of study started the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail/Millward Brown’s Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail in 2009.”

The Millward Brown study used functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery (fMRI) scanning to understand how the brain reacts to physical and virtual stimuli. The researchers examined brain activity to see the regions most involved in processing advertising. Results showed that “… greater emotional processing is facilitated by the physical material than by the virtual.” This suggests that print ads generated more emotion and positive associations, which the researchers say is vital for memory and brand recall.

Tolliver-Walker shares links to many other “neuroscience of print” studies in her article. You can read the results of the studies on direct mail, reading on paper vs. print, and digital vs. print ads, and more here:

Learn more statistics and facts about how people feel about print from our infographics, Why so Many People Love Print