How To Spot Shaky Neuroscience in the Boardroom

Neuroscience has seen such a growth in recent years that we are starting to see its influence everywhere from the courtroom to the classroom.A combination of the advance of brain imaging techniques, new insights into how the workings of the brain affect behaviour, and the need for organisations to adopt new approaches to solving problems, means that we increasingly find it in the boardroom too.But a word of caution may be necessary. Not all the ‘neuroscience’ you hear will be based on solid foundations – in fact some of it will be very shaky to say the least.

When the alarm bells should ring

It should be no  surprise that a science that studies the workings of the brain is extremely complex. It takes highly-trained neuroscientists to interpret brain imaging data and to reach conclusions from it. Presenting those conclusions, in a language that makes sense to most of us on the outside looking in, is difficult without ‘dumbing it down’ to some degree. But this is where many of the problems lie: when complex ideas become mainstream it can result in us knowing just enough to get ourselves into trouble!If you are going to turn to neuroscience to bring improvements to your organisation then you need to find a rare blend of understanding of the science and being able to communicate insights in a way that can positively impact your people.What you may find, if you choose the wrong people or organisations, is that common misinterpretations or over-interpretations of neuroscience will be trotted out. This is where the alarm bells should start ringing.Here are a few examples of neuroscience being applied either inappropriately or incorrectly:Marketing is a common area for statements like the above which really just re-packages common sense observations into so-called scientific insight. That people are more likely to buy a product when they are interested and feel a connection to it needs no neuroscience. There is no insight here.