You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in neuroscience to know that some people really love Apple. Thanks to a recent investigation, it turns out that merely looking at images of Apple products causes the brains of its most ardent supporters to respond just as a religious person’s brain does when he or she views iconography.
Recently the BBC began airing Superbrands, a documentary that examines the logic-defying success of global brands such as Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. In addition to filming the “revival-like” atmosphere at a new store opening, the program arranged for neuroscientists to examine the brain of a fan so dedicated, he claims he never stops thinking about Apple.
Digital Trends describes the encounter between Superbrands presenter Alex Riley and this fan:
Riley contacted the editor of World of Apple, Alex Brooks, an Apple worshipper who claims to think about Apple 24 hours a day, which is possibly 23 hours too many for most regular people. A team of neuroscientists studied Brooks’ brain while undergoing an MRI scan, to see how it reacted to images of Apple products and (heaven forbid) non-Apple products.
According to the neuroscientists, the scan revealed that there were marked differences in Brooks’ reactions to the different products. Previously, the scientists had studied the brains of those of religious faith, and they found that, as Riley puts it: “The Apple products are triggering the same bits of [Brooks'] brain as religious imagery triggers in a person of faith.”
How are we to interpret such information? If we ignore the study’s alarmingly small sample size for a moment, it seems clear that Apple technology strikes a chord within some users that goes beyond utility. Riley speculates that Apple finds a way to tap into the human need to communicate, and this fuels the brand’s unparalleled success.
We live in an age that is dominated by technology, much as the end of the 19th century was forever changed by the advent of industry. It is not terribly surprising that symbols of the progress of our times would inspire a type of religious fervor. Perhaps if scientists had been able to show an industrialists pictures of a coal mine, a smoke stack, or even a locomotive, they would have seen similar results.