BBC: Loving Apple looks like a religion to an MRI scan

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Michael Rose
May 17th, 2011

brainLater today, BBC 3 will be airing Secrets of the Superbrands, a documentary about the relationship between consumers and the brands that shape our behavior, our desires and our lives. Series creator Alex Riley let slip an interesting tidbit in a preview post about the series:

"The Bishop of Buckingham -- who reads his Bible on an iPad -- explained to me the similarities between Apple and a religion. And when a team of neuroscientists with an MRI scanner took a look inside the brain of an Apple fanatic it seemed the bishop was on to something. The results suggested that Apple was actually stimulating the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith."

Implying that Apple fandom equals zealotry may be attention-grabbing (and does indeed make me want to watch the program; too bad I can't use the BBC's iPlayer app here in the States), but the neurological similarity isn't surprising or particularly novel. You could almost certainly make the same observations about Red Sox fans, Twilight groupies, Van Halen lovers, Ducati collectors ... the list goes on, and whatever object of desire makes your heart pitter-patter will resonate in the neural patterns of your gray matter. Paraphrasing my colleague Chris Rawson, "This just in: the human brain is extremely susceptible to liking the things it likes to like. More details as we get them."

As to whether there's something particularly intense, sustained or worshipful about the relationship between the Apple brand and Apple owners... well, seriously now, this question is appearing on The Unofficial Apple Weblog, one of thousands of sites, magazines, conferences and less-public obsessions dedicated to all things 'i' and the company that makes them real. Do you even have to ask?

UPDATE: TUAW pal Alex Brooks from World of Apple let us know that it's his brain that's scanned on the program. Now I really want to see it!

Thanks to Jörg for the tip.

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