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New York University
Will it be a hit or a bomb with the public? Read the brain waves
Will it be a hit or a bomb with the public? Read the brain waves

To predict a large population's likely response to something--a product, politician or policy--political consultants, marketing gurus and advertising execs have long favored the focus group. Ask a small segment of the target audience what it thinks about something, the formula goes. Tweak accordingly, and unleash on the public. But what if a handful of subjects, a dozen or so electroencephalograms and a few hundred yards of electrical wiring could do a better job of identifying a potential hit (or winnowing out a rotten egg)? A new study finds that listening to the average brain-wave activity of a small group of subjects produces a more accurate prediction of a large population's...