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Reputation and EEG Brain Research: A Sociological Reflection on What We Are Doing April 22, 2010

Posted by Antti Ainamo in Blogroll.
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Being a sociologist, I find brain research fascinating because it is much about what sociology is not about. With this mind, let me reflect on Mikko’s (Mikko Salminen’s) post, written on March  18, and shown below i n this blog.

In conducting laboratory experiments using the psychophysiological methods, Mikko writes that we (mostly Niklas, Mikko and Kaisa at CKIR/Aalto) use methods such as electroencephalography, or EEG for short. Other methods would exist such as MEG, PET, and fMRI, for example. (Incidentally, the University of Turku, which Matti and I represent in the DiRe project is the strongholds of PET research in Finland).

Research is always very much about two kinds of choices: (a) what to do and (b) what NOT to do.

The strength of EEG is its applicability to more ecologically valid settings. Mobile, light-weight, recording systems allow data collection in what as closely as possible resemble real life situations. Of course, in the real world, we are not always wired, as we are in the CKIR laboratory. Then, again, often, in what we call the real world, with our mobile phones, iPhones, etc., we in fact are wired anytime, anywhere. So, what may at first resemble a large difference in comparison to the “real world” may not in the ultimately be such a difference after all. So, Part II, we clearly are on to something in our research.

In the DiRe project, our interests focus on those responses of the individuals in our laboratory that tell something about their (and, by extension, our) emotions and motivational processes; in Dire, we aim to study which psychophysiologically observed emotional responses are related to good reputation, bad reputation, both, or neither of the above. For example – and importantly from the perspective of sociological analysis – our EEG research focuses on to what extent an individual will “avoid” or to “approach” a representation of a business firm and its reputation.

At this phase of our research, we will not be able to study “coercion” as it is called in sociology or what is, as far as I know, called “punishment” in brain research. To spell this out: in addition to social norms about what actions and thoughts are to be avoided and which models we deem worth of individual and social aspirations, there is also a third interest in addition to “avoid” and “approach”. So, in sociology, this is called “coercion”, shorthand for violence or the threat thereof. What would this research interest be called in brain research terms? Ok ok “punishment”, but that does not well with “avoidance” and “approach”. How about  “attack”? Or, “aggressiveness”? Or, “anxiety and/or fear”? or Or, “appreciation of a circumstance where we freed from anxiety and fear”?

I do now know, at this stage of our inquiry. What I do already know is that this research interest is worthy of more than passing interest. As the sociologist James G. March has shown, much of what goes in business schools is application of sociology. And, what businesses do is apply what their top managers have learned in business schools.

To make an intermediate summary: Sociological ideas are at the source of many business cases. Ok ok, we will not be studying everything at once. It has been established not only in the first part of this post that this is a bad idea; it has also been established through hundreds of years of serious inquiry in philosophy of science. The mark of good research is not to try to study all at once. To study everything in one go is a recipe for a bad study. In academia, doing such research may lead to a reputation for NOT being a good researcher. “Nobody is perfect, but I” , I used to say when I was learning English and that is when — rightly so — I got a reputation for someone who is just learning English.

Nonetheless, the goal in the next stage of our Digital Reputation research ought to be to seriously consider the business case in the case of reputation management and design ways by which we can take more of business realities and, by extension, sociological insights that often are behind those realities. The big fish is worth the pursuit, even though we may never catch it. Even if, following the line of thought of Ernest Hemingway, we need not appropriate every piece of knowledge we gain, knowledge will help keep us on the right track and track what is worthy of pursuit. Ditto for reputation, its reputation, and the study of these “social facts” and the associated psychophysiological signals.



1. Link Building Company | Golden Info for Internet Marketers - April 23, 2010

[…] Reputation and EEG Brain Research: A Sociological Reflection on What We Are Doing « DiRe &#821… […]

2. safety training canada - March 14, 2011

The invention of the piano changed the course of music in the 18th century. Then, in the 20th century, along came the synthesiser, allowing musicians to play with sounds never before heard. Their collaboration has now evolved into a jazz-based noodle-fest for neuro-nerds. Peters took EEGs of his brain in various states – while asleep, angry, bored and so on – then fed them to a computer that applied various processing algorithms. The result goes into music synthesisers that provide a base layer over which the Finn Peters band can improvise. I know that eeg and brainwaves can be consider fractal… and of course there is the use of electrical choc to threat severe depression and schizophrenia… but is there a article or something that link those two methods and explain the electrochoc therapy in the same way as defibrilation and change of phases in a fractal dimension Albert Einstein could solve complex mathematical problems while remaining in the alpha state, though our work suggests that other frequencies, beta and theta would also have been present. Alpha alone seems to indicate an empty mind rather than a relaxed one, a mindless state rather than a passive one, and requires the presence of other frequencies, beta and theta before the usual description of alpha becomes true.

Antti Ainamo - April 20, 2011

Thanks for comment. With my research also on popular music, I find uour queery most interesting. Unfortunately, at least at present, I have no knowledge of the kind of article for which you ask. Should you find one, I would be happy if you sent me a copy. Thanks, Antti

Mikko Salminen - April 20, 2011

Unfortunately I know nothing about the electroconvulsive therapy, so I cannot guide you good publications about it’s relation to EEG. A quick search with Google Scholar seemed to find many papers about this clinical method and EEG and fractals:


But as I said, I cannot really help in selecting the good papers to start with.

A good overview about brain oscillations could be this book: http://www.amazon.com/Rhythms-Brain-Gyorgy-Buzsaki/dp/0195301064/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303291068&sr=8-1

3. eeg of brain - April 20, 2011

Given my lim­ited work with ADHD stu­dents and in light of my knowl­edge of the field of ADHD coach­ing, the eeg biofeed­back study appears to point the way to future cog­ni­tive test­ing that as Dr. Rabiner points out, oper­ates on a whole sys­tems model of research­ing complexity.

I’d be curi­ous to know what other treat­ment plans had been enacted, before the EEG test­ing began, e.g., on the atten­tion scale, how EEG pat­terns mea­sured related soma-sensory tracking.

Antti Ainamo - April 20, 2011

Thanks for comment. The best person to answer your query would be Mikko Salminen, who was in charge of managing the EEG testing. I have asked him to reply to your query.

Mikko Salminen - April 20, 2011

We have used only clinically healthy subjects in our studies, so no clinical treatments were planned or done.

The methodological tradition we follow is standard in experimental psychophysiological research, and this article is a nice example of it:


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