Berkeley, California - A couple of professors at the Berkeley-Haas School of Business who are pioneering the use of neuroscience to sort out how consumers think and feel about companies and products were recently drafted to help the Oakland Raiders assess what happens in the minds of the team’s loyal fans, and how that might be duplicated among fans who sit more on the sidelines.

Ming Hsu, an assistant professor of marketing, and Leif Nelson, the Ewald T. Grether Professor in Business Administration and Marketing, worked with colleagues from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management to measure the brain activity of eight volunteers wearing special skullcaps with brain-monitoring electrodes while watching the Raiders play the Kansas City Chiefs at the Oakland Coliseum on December 6, as well as videos carrying Raiders marketing messages.

Four subjects identified themselves as die-hard Raiders fans, while the other four either had never attended a National Football League game or hadn’t been to one in at least five years.

“We wanted to create a benchmark of brain activity for loyal fans and then see if we could get casual fans’ brain activity to move closer to that of the loyal fans during the game,” said Brandon Doll, who earned a master’s of business administration at Haas in 2014 and is director of the Raiders’ strategic projects.

Hsu said traditional marketers have had few options for measuring fan experience, but neuroscience is offering new tools.

“We see from our data that for casual fans, attendance resulted in long-lasting positive memories - not only of the event but also of the Raiders brand,” he said.