Changes in brain activity during the observation of TV commercials by using EEG, GSR and HR measurements

Giovanni Vecchiato, Laura Astolfi, Fabrizio De Vico Fallani, Febo Cincotti, Donatella Mattia, Serenella Salinari, Ramon Soranzo, Fabio Babiloni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study we were interested to analyse the brain activity occurring during the "naturalistic" observation of commercial ads intermingled in a random order within a documentary. In order to measure both the brain activity and the emotional engage of the 15 healthy subjects investigated, we used simultaneous EEG, Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), Heart Rate (HR) recordings during the whole experiment. We would like to link significant variation of EEG, GSR, HR and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measurements with the memory and pleasantness of the stimuli presented, as resulted successively from the subject's verbal interview. In order to do that, different indexes were employed to summarize the cerebral and autonomic measurements performed. Such indexes were used in the statistical analysis, performed with the use of Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and z-score transformation of the estimated cortical activity by solving the associated EEG inverse problem. The results are summarized as follows: (1) in the population analyzed, the cortical activity in the theta band elicited during the observation of the TV commercials that were remembered is higher and localized in the left frontal brain areas when compared to the activity elicited during the vision of the TV commercials that were forgotten (p\0.048). Same increase in the theta activity occurred during the observation of commercials that were judgment pleasant when compared with the other (p\0.042). Differences in cortical activity were also observed for the gamma activity, bilaterally in frontal and prefrontal areas. (2) the HR and HRV activity elicited during the observation of the TV commercials that were remembered or judged pleasant is higher than the same activity during the observation of commercials that will be forgotten (p\0.001 and p\0.048, respectively for HR and HRV) or were judged unpleasant (p\0.042 and p\0.04, respectively for HR and HRV). No statistical differences between the level of the GSR values were observed across the experimental conditions. In conclusion, the TV commercials proposed to the population analyzed have increased the HR values and the cerebral activity mainly in the theta band in the left hemisphere when they will be memorized and judged pleasant. Further research with an extended set of subjects will be necessary to further validate the observations reported in this paper. However, these conclusions seems reasonable and well inserted in the already existing literature on this topic related to the HERA model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-179
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Topography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Autonomic signals
  • High resolution EEG
  • TV commercials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anatomy
  • Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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