Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Technical Report

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience




Activity in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during persuasive messages predicts future message-consistent behavior change, but there are significant limitations to the types of persuasion processes that can be invoked inside an MRI scanner. For instance, real world persuasion often involves multiple people in conversation. Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) allows us to move out of the scanner and into more ecologically valid contexts. As a first step, the current study used fNIRS to replicate an existing fMRI persuasion paradigm (i.e. the sunscreen paradigm) to determine if mPFC shows similar predictive value with this technology. Consistent with prior fMRI work, activity in mPFC was significantly associated with message-consistent behavior change, above and beyond self-reported intentions. There was also a difference in this association between previous users and non-users of sunscreen. Activity differences based on messages characteristics were not observed. Finally, activity in a region of right dorsolateral PFC (dlPFC), which has been observed with counterarguing against persuasive messages, correlated negatively with future behavior. The current results suggest it is reasonable to use fNIRS to examine persuasion paradigms that go beyond what is possible in the MRI scanner environment.

Copyright/Permission Statement

© The Authors (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact


fNIRS, persuasion, replication, mPFC, dlPFC, health behavior



Date Posted: 15 June 2018