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Activate your brain – read printed text

Published by
Simon Matthis - 21 May 2012

According to a new study, printed material stimulates the brain more than on-line material. This is because the brain perceives physical material to be more “real”, i.e. more easily linked to the memory and thus has greater meaning. Printed texts like magazines and books require more emotional processing, which is of crucial importance for the memory and also brand associations. This is why an ad in a magazine might be more effective than internet advertising. Printed text increases the brain’s response to the message, which suggests that people relate the given information to their own thoughts and feelings.

The study has been carried out by the Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology at Bangor University in collaboration with the Royal Mail in the UK, and is related in the latest issue of Holmen Paper’s newsletter. The aim of the study was to investigate whether there are any differences in the effectiveness of communications in physical and virtual media, i.e. material versus digital.

The study focused on how the brain processes and reacts to physical marketing material, compared with digital material presented on a screen. To understand and see how the brain reacts to physical and virtual stimuli, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify, in real time, which parts of the brain were most involved in processing advertising.

The study concludes: “This research strongly suggests that greater emotional processing is facilitated by the physical material than by the virtual. The “real” experience that the physical media provides means it’s better at becoming part of memory. It generates more emotion, which should help to develop more positive brand associations. The real experience is also internalized, which means the materials have a more personal effect, and therefore should aid motivation.“