Texas Tech’s Rawls College of Business Professor Returns to Her Roots

Private donation opens new doors for research.

Brain activity, oxygen, and optical imaging are terms someone might expect to hear in a science building, not a business college, but Texas Tech University’s Rawls College of Business marketing department has brought a new meaning to its research through these words. Shannon Rinaldo, assistant professor of marketing at the Rawls College of Business, received a $55,000 grant to fund the new Physiological and Neural Imaging Laboratory (PANIL). In addition to the lab, a new device on the market, fNIR, was purchased fully with the grant. This device allows functional near-infrared imaging at the frontal lobes to measure oxygen level changes. Rinaldo said the device produces different results, unlike the past research where individuals were asked in a survey how they felt about a certain product or logo. “We can give people decision tasks or emotional tasks, and actually see where in the brain the activation is occurring,” Rinaldo said. According to BIOPAC, the manufacturer of fNIR, the equipment allows researchers to quantitatively assess brain functions- such as attention, memory, planning, and problem solving- while individuals perform cognitive tasks. Rinaldo explained the research allows her and her colleagues the opportunity to see whether people are really experiencing anxiety, nervousness or fear when viewing different marketing stimuli such as advertisements or commercials. “The beautiful thing about this equipment is we have one computer that can present stimuli, so a commercial or a logo, and while those stimuli are being flashed on the screen the other computer is measuring those physiological responses,” Rinaldo said. With a background in physiological research, Rinaldo believes her education will enable her to expand the quality of her research, as well as the research of graduate students and colleagues. She also said the new equipment enables experimental research only a few universities in the nation have the opportunity to conduct. “I think it can go a long way for recruiting new faculty, recruiting new graduate students, and it lays the foundation for future grant applications and grant money,” Rinaldo said. Rinaldo said new opportunities will present themselves as Texas Tech works its way into becoming a Tier One status university. “As we move into Tier One status and move further into the research realm, I believe we will see a lot more collaboration across campus and across universities in this area,” she said. The planned research projects are at the beginning stages and the lab will eventually move to a new location when the new Rawls College of Business building is finished. Rinaldo expects one of the projects to be launched by the spring semester and another one soon after. Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at www.media.ttu.edu. CONTACT: Debra A. Laverie, senior associate dean, Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3953 or debbie.laverie@ttu.edu.