Commercial Alert has compiled a list of articles on neuromarketing, the "science" of studying brain chemistry to to sway consumers. Though I generally agree with the economist who compares the practice to reading tea leaves, the phenomenon is nonetheless interesting for what it represents: a visible, heavily promoted reminder that Coke, Pepsi, and the rest of the Fortune 500 would ditch subtle persuasion in favor of aggressive mind control in a heartbeat.
It is small comfort that neuromarketers claims are mostly hogwash--because the reason they are hogwash is that scientists actually know very little about our brains. If they did, perhaps they'd be closer to finding the root causes of mental illnesses such as clinical depression. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies are successfully promoting the myth that an imbalance in brain chemistry--out of wack seratonin and dopamine--causes depression, but scientists know it isn't true. Prozac and other drugs that alter the brain chemistry work on some of the people some of the time, but no honest scientist can claim to know how.
I have several friends who suffer from serious bouts of depression (hanging with the creative crowd and all), and it just boils my blood that neuroscientists are focusing on finding new ways to sell mayonaise. Come to think of it, perhaps that is one of those root causes...