In recent years, there has been an explosion in the abilities of neuroscience to study the functionality of the brain using neuroimaging tools. The field of cognitive neuroscience examines observable brain activities to identify the brain areas that underlie human functions and processes. Neuroimaging tools such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) can capture brain activation. Moreover, neurophysiological tools such as galvanic skin response (GSR) and eyetracking can capture biological states as well. Both neuroscience and neurophysiological tools have led to a better understanding of how people make economic and social decisions, deal with stress, risk, uncertainty, and ambiguity, respond to rewards and form utility, trust and distrust, cooperate or compete with others, predict others’ behaviors, and search for and process information. Social scientists, mostly in economics, psychology, and marketing, have teamed up with neuroscientists to examine a variety of social phenomena, and they have made notable advances in our understanding of decision making and human behavior. In addition to the use of neuroscience and neurophysiological tools, existing theories in the brain sciences may allow for a better understanding of human behavior as well.
Information systems (IS) research studies the development and use of information and communication technologies in organizations and society. In the past, IS researchers have typically relied on data from surveys, interviews, observation of behavior, archival sources, and simulation models. While these techniques have certainly advanced the IS discipline, recent discoveries in neuroimaging and neurophysiological tools can enable IS researchers to obtain more objective, reliable, and unbiased measurements of thoughts, beliefs, and feelings and link them to specific human processes. While self-reported data are susceptible to common method, social desirability, and subjectivity biases, integrating traditional data with neuroimaging data gives the opportunity to triangulate multiple measurement methods and strengthen the robustness of data. [Source: Information Systems Research]
Not only IS academics have been using cognitive neuroscience tools and theories. Also, the video gaming industry is using EEG-based headsets to observe the brain activations of people while playing games, and they use these activations to modify the gaming experience (Emotiv and Neurosky). Moreover, the world’s largest software company Microsoft has started a research program in the field of brain-computer interaction, illustrating the importance of cognitive neuroscience tools and theories for IS research. Philips and ABN AMRO, to state another example, have developed a software prototype based on GSR measurements which makes possible the identification of a computer user's emotions.
Against this background, NeuroIS is an emerging subfield within the IS discipline that makes use of neuroscience and neurophysiological tools and theories to better understand the development and use of information and communication technologies in organizations and society. Please find below a NeuroIS definition, which was developed by the participants of the first Gmunden Retreat on NeuroIS in 2009:
NeuroIS is a subfield in the IS literature that relies on neuroscience and neurophysiological theories and tools to better understand the development, use, and impact of information technologies (IT). NeuroIS seeks to contribute to (i) the development of new theories that make possible accurate predictions of IT-related behaviors, and (ii) the design of IT artifacts that positively affect economic and non-economic variables (e.g., productivity, satisfaction, adoption, well being). [Source: Communications of the AIS]