Predicting persuasion-induced behavior change from the brain

Emily B. Falk, Elliot T. Berkman, Traci Mann, Brittany Harrison, Matthew D. Lieberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


Although persuasive messages often alter people's self-reported attitudes and intentions to perform behaviors, these self-reports do not necessarily predict behavior change. We demonstrate that neural responses to persuasive messages can predict variability in behavior change in the subsequent week. Specifically, an a priori region of interest (ROI) in medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) was reliably associated with behavior change (r = 0.49, p < 0.05). Additionally, an iterative cross-validation approach using activity in this MPFC ROI predicted an average 23% of the variance in behavior change beyond the variance predicted by self-reported attitudes and intentions. Thus, neural signals can predict behavioral changes that are not predicted from self-reported attitudes and intentions alone. Additionally, this is the first functional magnetic resonance imaging study to demonstrate that a neural signal can predict complex real world behavior days in advance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8421-8424
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 23 2010

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