Neuroethics Publications

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



Products that align themselves with basic and clinical neurosciences do well in the market. There are reasons to be wary about such "brain branding" when commercial interests threaten to compromise scientific and clinical values. We describe three concerns. The first, exemplified in drug development and dissemination, is of the insidious effects of blurred boundaries between academia and industry. The second, exemplified by the sale of brain fitness products, if of commerce getting ahead of the motivating science. The first, exemplified by some functional imaging practices, if of the misuse of neuroscience in the marketing technology. We propose three reasons for why brain branding appears to work. First is the seductive allure of neuroscience as providing seemingly deeper explanations of complex phenomena. The second is the persuasive power of pictures, which converges with the allure of neuroscience in brain imaging. The third is the context in which many physicians and patients find themselves. The relative lack of control over the course of chronic diseases may dispose physicians and patients to believe claims made by companies that align themselves with neuroscience. We outline circumstances when clinicians, patients, and consumers should question the usefulness of diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions.


To cite this article: Bree Chancellor & Anjan Chatterjee (2011): Brain Branding: When Neuroscience and Commerce Collide,

AJOB Neuroscience, 2:4, 18-27

To link to this article:

Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

ISSN: 2150-7740 print / 2150-7759 online

DOI: 10.1080/21507740.2011.611123



Date Posted: 26 June 2012