Dino Levy

Assistant Professor, Recanati Business School, Tel-Aviv University

I am an assistant professor at Recanati Business School, Tel-Aviv University and the head of the Neuroeconomics and Neuromarketing lab. In my lab we are trying to understand consumer decision-making and various aspects of value representation in the brain. Specifically, we are exploring the effects of context and internal state on decision-making and on neural representations of value. We are also trying to predict consumer’s preferences using neural and physiological measurements above and beyond the accuracy of behavioral measurements.

We use an interdisciplinary approach, which involves quantitative economic theories, combined with advanced behavioral methods and theoretical models from psychology, marketing and economics with neuroscience techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Electroencephalography (EEG), and other physiological measures such as Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) and eye-tracking.

We have several main research projects in the lab:

  1. Examining the effects different basic visual attributes have on subjects’ choices and on their neural representation of value.The main purpose of this research topic is to relate our understanding of the basic principles of visual perception and how the visual system operates with basic principles of value-based decision-making. Our main questions in this topic are, if and to what extent could we find value modulation in brain areas that are known to represent sensory information. We also examine if there is evidence for a “value tag” in sensory areas and whether this “value tag” is due to a bottom-up or a top-down modulation.
  2. Examining and understanding the effect of changing internal state (like hunger, thirst, temperature, wakefulness) on subjects’ choices and on their neural representation of value.There is ample data describing the effect of context on behavior in general and on decision making in particular. Our aim is to investigate in a rigorous manner a specific kind of context effect: the effect of changing the internal state of individuals has on value-based decision making. The main questions in this topic are how does changes in internal state affect neural value representations, and is there evidence supporting a structure-function interaction between neural value representation and brain areas important for monitoring and affecting internal state?
  3. Using transcranial alternate current stimulation (tACS) to alter decision-making.In recent years, several studies demonstrated some effects of brain stimulation on subjects’ decision making. The main advantage of using brain stimulation is that we could make causal inferences. In this research topic we aim to deepen our understanding of what are the exact brain loci and stimulation parameters that would have the strongest effects on value based decision-making. We focus our stimulation techniques on alternate current stimulation as oppose to direct current as there is ample data demonstrating the importance of specific frequencies of brain activity on human behavior.
  4. Predicting consumers’ preferences using neural and physiological measurements.In many cases, relying only on consumers’ verbal reports or their responses to questionnaires for evaluating their preferences can result in a biased, inaccurate or inconclusive result. Therefore, we use various neural and physiological measurements (such as fMRI, EEG, GSR and eye-tracking) to acquire information about consumer preference that is unobtainable through conventional methods. Mainly, we obtain neural and physiological data while consumers are passively evaluating various related marketing campaigns (such as TV ads, internet pages, etc.) and use these measurements to try and predict consumers’ future choices and behavior. The hope is to increase the predictive power we currently have using standard non-physiological measures and to be able to identify the consumer’s true preference — namely the choice they will make at the time of their purchasing decision.