I recently came upon this blurb on a UPenn Annenberg School site about an interesting fMRI pilot study:
Functional MRI of Brain Response to Anti-Smoking Advertisements
Daniel Langleben, MD
This is a pilot study for the larger center project titled Evaluating Anti-Tobacco public service announcements (PSAs). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study brain response to anti-smoking PSAs. In preliminary studies, researchers used perfusion fMRI to detect increased activity in the components of the brain limbic system in opiate-dependent patients in response to a ten-minute heroin-related video. The results indicated that (1) Brain response to media can be measured with fMRI; (2) Brain response to media varies across target audiences and (3) Specific structures mediating strong interest could be activated in the target population but not the controls. Collaborators at Penn have also used fMRI to detect differential response to the emotional image content. This pilot study takes an important first step towards exploring the feasibility of using magnetic resonance signal as a marker of cognitive (e.g. attention) and emotional (e.g. arousal) responses to different PSAs. Results from this would allow interpretation of the brain response to a PSA in terms of known brain localization of cognitive functions.