Our 3 brains in decision making

When we shop online, we sometimes feel an irresistible urge to buy a pair of shoes, a dress, or a trip, a property. For marketers, understanding this mechanism is essential to setting up a marketing strategy that takes into account various parameters, including those related to the functioning of our brain, or our three brains. It is in this context that the concept of neuromarketing was conceived. Before going any further, let’s take the time to get to know the three minds and their respective roles…

Three minds and their role

Our brain, as we know it, is made up of two hemispheres. The right brain deals with emotion and intuition. On the left is a rational mind, which favors logic. It is also used for communication and analysis. So some people are more rational while others are more intuitive. But the cognitive functions of the brain are far more complex. In addition to the right and left brain, it also has 3 layers, as suggested by the triple brain theory. The oldest is the reptilian brain, followed by the limbic brain and is covered from the outside by the neocortex.

reptilian brain

The reptilian brain is what the first men were endowed with. They faced a harsh and unforgiving environment that they were just beginning to understand. The reptilian brain allowed them to survive because of their instinct which made them decide what to do in the immediate future. It is also the brain that has balanced its organism by regulating its oxygenation, its temperature, as well as its heart rate. When a situation requires an immediate response, the reptile’s brain provokes an instinctive reflex, which can result in flight, or a strong sense of pleasure, which we have great difficulty resisting.

limbic brain

The limbic brain or intermediate brain, or emotional brain, is responsible for managing our emotions. It is also involved in the preservation of our long-term memory. Important events, pain or fear are there to be remembered and allow us to adapt our responses when these situations reproduce themselves. However, it has a small downside. Although it is essential for our learning and helps us manage our emotions, it is also what leads us to unconsciously make value judgments.


The last mind is the one that was made last. It constitutes the outer part of the cerebral cortex. It is also called neopallium or isocortex. It is the center of our rational mind, but also the one that hears us reason or gives us reason. It is also about creativity. In our current world, it is what is dominant. All the decisions taken should be made after a long rational analysis. The pros and cons are weighed, dissected. Spontaneity and instinct are repressed.

All the three minds are dependent on each other in their functioning. So in the context of a purchase, it is the reptilian brain that receives the information in the first place. It then passes through the medial brain before entering the neocortex. It will analyze it and determine if the purchase is useful and if we really need it. But it clearly appears that in the end it is the primitive brain that will have the last word.

Neuromarketing and the relationship between three brains

Neuromarketing is a concept that emerged in the early 2000s under the inspiration of Reed Montague, a doctor of neurology at the University of Texas. The principle of this method is to be based on the results obtained using two techniques aimed at identifying the spontaneous electrical activities of the consumer’s brain and thus determining the attitudes the consumer takes before he is finished with the purchase. For businesses, neuroscience enables them to anticipate their actions and better optimize their advertising strategy.

Use of Imaging Methods in Neuromarketing

The first method uses electroencephalography, or EEG. Electrodes attached to the consumer’s head make it possible to record the electrical activity and the waves emitted by neurons according to the position with which it is encountered. These waves depend on whether he is excited, happy or angry.

The second method is functional magnetic resonance imaging, which uses a machine that maps variations in blood flow according to the intensity of the consumer’s brain activity. Even the smallest changes are recorded and provide insight into the primitive brain thought to be the center of pleasure.

Inherent messages to stimulate the three minds

Studies have shown that when we are exposed to a product that we want, we unknowingly make the decision to buy it at all costs. Marketers have understood this and are playing on it. In some shops, craftsmen work directly in front of our eyes to arouse the interest of passers-by, to arouse emotion or desire in them. Other stores favor the layout of their space, the presentation of their products, to the extent that the customer projects himself and does not resist the urge to buy. Everything is done by marketers to stimulate the primitive brain. He is the one who takes the final decision.

various purchasing decisions

However, it should be noted that there are several types of purchasing decisions that need to be known for the neuromarketing method to be effective. When we go to the supermarket we do essential daily shopping. During these daily or weekly purchases, it may happen that we suddenly want to buy a product that is not necessarily useful, but whose price is not very high. Limited purchases are made after some consideration, but mainly deals with the products of well-known brands. But it may happen that the purchase is made after extensive online research, reading consumer reviews.

Neuroscience to adjust stimuli according to audience

Based on analyzes done through neuroscience, marketers are able to define what interests consumers, what gives them feedback, what drives their decisions. In order to optimize the results, they are subjected to visual, olfactory or sound stimuli, the purpose of which is to provoke their desire to purchase the product. It can be the smell of a perfume that floats in the air, an advertisement whose message the message evokes an emotion, music that evokes a pleasant memory or a regressive taste that brings back the happy days of childhood. Note that some consumers do not react to emotion. They make purchases after getting information about their usefulness or effectiveness.


Although neuromarketing is now widely acclaimed by companies, it is a practice that is highly regulated in France. The Bioethics Law, promulgated in July 2011, prohibits the creation of companies operating in the field of neuromarketing. This law clearly stipulates in its Articles 16-14 of the Civil Code that brain imaging technology is devoted only to scientific or medical use. The fact is that many companies use it to optimize their sales and be able to deal with large international groups. in present, Marketing strategies need to change To reach a wider audience. Neuromarketing is used as a way to entice customers who can’t express their spontaneity and play on their emotional fibers to give them a sense of belonging.

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