Podcast: Exploring Grady College’s Brain, Body and Media (BBAM) Lab

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Photo of participant having wires put on his head to detect his responses to media and messages in the BBAM Lab.
The BBAM Lab supports research investigating cognitive and emotional processing of audio and visual media. (Photo: Submitted)

Founded in 2020 and located on the fifth floor of Grady College, the Brain, Body and Media (BBAM) Lab supports research that examines psychophysiological responses to media and messages. In the lab, researchers can attach sensors to subjects to track how they respond to audio and visual stimuli. 

Many of the studies conducted in the lab monitor participants by using electrodes that measure activity in the heart, movement of facial muscles on the forehead or around the eyes, and electrodermal activity, or sweat glands, on the hands. The lab also uses electroencephalography (EEG) that measures brain wave activity. 

To further explore what happens in Grady’s BBAM Lab, check in on some of the recent projects, and inquire about how others can get involved, the Grady Research Radio podcast interviewed Dr. Glenna Read, an assistant professor in Advertising and the director of the BBAM Lab. 

Below is a transcription of the podcast, edited for clarity and brevity.

Grady College: What goes on in the BBAM Lab? 

A quote graphic that reads "We look at how the brain and body respond to mediated messages. That can be ads. That can be video games, news stories, etc." Glenna Read: A lot goes on in here. We conduct research, mainly using psychophysiological and neuroscientific measures. So, like the name of the lab implies, we look at how the brain and the body respond to mediated messages. That can be ads. That can be video games, news stories, etc.

Grady College: The lab has been used to answer a lot of questions — too many for Dr. Read to list off. Recently, the lab was used to evaluate how people respond to the correction of misinformation, corporate advocacy advertising, and different forms of COVID-19 vaccine appeals. 

Glenna Read: One of our most recent projects is looking at COVID-19 vaccine appeals and their impact on college students. This was a collaboration with Dr. Bartosz Wojdynski, Dr. Hye Jin Yoon and the graduate and undergraduate students working in the BBAM Lab. 

We were looking at three different types of message appeals, including appeals that describe societal benefits of vaccination, individual benefits of getting vaccinated, and humorous appeals, which are funny appeals about vaccinations. We found that societal benefits and humorous appeals were most successful with college students in terms of self report. So, they said, “We like these appeals. We find them more positive. We find them less negative.”

But, I think the really interesting finding was revealed by the psychophysiological measures. We looked at attention over time to each of these messages, and we found that, of the three appeal types, our participants paid the most attention to the humorous appeals. So, taken together, societal benefits and humorous appeals are both going to be effective in terms of how much people like them. But, our college students will pay more attention to the humorous appeals and then the other two. 

Grady College: What is all of this equipment? What exactly is it used for?

Glenna Read: So, it really varies. We have a bunch of different tools in the lab. But, the ones that we use the most are what we call our peripheral psychophysiological measures, and these are the measures that assess what’s happening in the body. 

There are three primary measures that we use. Our electrodermal activity measure is our sweat response, and it measures arousal. So, if somebody gets emotionally excited, they’ll start sweating, or the properties of their skin will change and that indicates to us arousal. 

We also look at electrocardiography, which we turn to heart rate. So, this is the activity of the heart. It’s kind of counterintuitive, but when you’re watching a mediated message, when you’re looking at a video or something like that, a lower heart rate is actually associated with more attention to that message because this is indicating to us that our participant can relax and take in external information.

Finally, we use facial electromyography. This is a measure of the activity of the muscles in the face that are associated with emotion. So, for example, if I furrow my brow in anger or frustration, I activate a muscle called the corrugator supercilii, and this muscle is indicative of negative affect. 

So, we can tap into these three emotional and cognitive processes: attention, or cognitive resource allocation, arousal, or emotional intensity, and emotional valence, which is positive or negative feelings.

Grady College: How did the BBAM Lab start? 

Glenna Read: I started this lab when I came to UGA. I was very lucky to have support from the College, from the AdPR Department and from UGA to be able to establish this lab. 

This, this is what I do. This is my passion. I’ve worked in a lot of different labs. I’ve set up labs. This is the first time that I’ve been able to build a lab from the ground up. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do and was really fortunate to be able to do at UGA.

Grady College: Who can get involved and how can they go about doing that?

Glenna Read: Well, we currently have both graduate students and undergraduate students working in the lab. I would encourage anybody who is interested in research or is interested in psychophysiology in particular to ask about getting involved with the lab. 

We welcome researchers with different experience levels. We welcome researchers with different interests. We have folks who are interested in going into research. We have folks who are interested in transitioning their skills to the industry. These skills that you pick up in the BBAM lab can be helpful in both ways, in terms of the networks that we’ve built within academia and beyond. 

We’re looking in particular for students who are conscientious, pay attention to detail and are good working with teams, because we’re a big team. We have 12 of us, including myself, in the BBAM Lab right now, and we all work and collaborate on each other’s projects.

If you are interested in joining the lab as an undergraduate or graduate research assistant, email Dr. Read to set up an appointment to discuss becoming involved in the BBAM Lab.

Glenna Read, AdPR faculty and alumni recognized at American Academy of Advertising conference

Glenna Read, assistant professor of advertising, was awarded the Mary Alice Shaver Promising Professor Award for junior faculty excellence at the American Academy of Advertising annual conference March 25-27, 2022.

The Award honors a junior faculty member who has demonstrated excellence and innovation in advertising teaching and research. The honor is not bestowed every year.

Students recognize Dr. Read as a dedicated teacher who uses in-class activities to demonstrate concepts and engage students,” said Karen King, professor emerita, in her letter nominating Read for this award.

Since joining the AdPR faculty in fall 2018, Read has taught three different undergraduate classes (Media Strategy and Activation, Advertising and Society and Insights and Analytics), as well as four different graduate classes. She has developed two new graduate courses, Consumer Neuroscience and Media Psychophysiology. She is the founder and director of the Brain, Body and Mind lab at Grady College, which uses psychology, psychophysiology and neuroscience to study how people process advertising.

Read has published thirteen articles in leading journals included Journal of Advertising, Journal of Communication and Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising. She has made 30 peer-reviewed conference presentations.

Read’s award was among several honors by Department of Advertising and Public Relations faculty and alumni at the AAA conference.

Grace Ahn trying out Snap Spectacles at the AAA conference.
Grace Ahn trying out Snap Spectacles at the AAA conference. (Photo: courtesy of Grace Ahn)

Other honors included:

    • Nate Evans, associate professor of advertising, Jay Lim (MA ’16, Ph.D. ‘21) and Ph.D. student Marilyn Primovic (AB ’18, MA ’18) received runner-up for the Best Article Award in the Journal of Interactive Advertising for their paper Exploring how disclosure works for listicle-style native advertising: the role of persuasion knowledge, persuasion appropriateness and supplementary disclosure effect of brand social media.”
    • Alex Pfeuffer, assistant professor of advertising, and Joe Phua, associate professor of advertising, were awarded a AAA Research Fellowship Award for a three-year research project studying video blogs and trust cues about COVID information.
    • Jisu Huh (MA ’00, Ph.D. ’03), of the University of Minnesota, was named the editor of the Journal of Advertising.

Additionally, Sun Joo “Grace” Ahn, associate professor of advertising, organized and moderated successful half-day pre-conference session titled “Advertising in the Metaverse.”

Eric Haley (ABJ ’87, MA ’89, PhD ’92), of the University of Tennessee, received best paper awards from several AAA journals.

Jooyoung Kim served as the AAA secretary and is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Interactive Advertising.

Consistent cell phone service has direct link to health and well-being

A causal relationship has been demonstrated linking the reliability of cell phone service with an individual’s health and well-being, according to a University of Georgia researcher.

Glenna Read, an assistant professor of advertising at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, worked on the seven-month longitudinal study investigating how stable cellphone access impacts health and quality of life of people experiencing poverty.

The paper, “Making stability dependable: Stable cellphone access leads to better health outcomes for those experiencing poverty,” was recently published in the journal Information, Communication and Society.

“Consistent cellphone access was associated with improved health and well-being outcomes over time,” said Read, the lead author on the paper. “Furthermore, while all participants benefitted from consistent cellphone access, those who benefitted the most were those who reported having low social support.”

The increasing reliance on cellphone technology ignores the fact that many individuals are unable to maintain consistent, reliable access to cellphones. Previous research finds that devices are often lost or broken, are expensive to replace, and that low-income users often run out of minutes.

In this study, participants in the treatment group received phone cards providing unlimited talk, text, and data and participants in the control group were given grocery store gift cards of the equivalent amount. Over the course of the experiment, participants were asked about their overall health; quality of life measures such as psychological quality of life or self-esteem, social support and environmental factors such as safety and financial resources; and cellphone access.

 Participants in the treatment group reported better health and quality of life compared to those in the control group. Emotional social support moderated this relationship in such a way that those with the least social support benefited the most from stable cellphone access.

“We know that social support is critical for health and well-being and not having access to that support, especially when it’s limited, can have a negative impact on quality of life,” Read said. “These findings highlight the importance of ensuring consistent and reliable cellphone access for all Americans.”

An increasing number of healthcare and social service industries rely on cellphone-enabled technology, such as apps, text-messaging and voice communication as a primary means of connecting with employees and customers. The pandemic only accelerated this reliance on remote communication tools. The results of this research, which was conducted prior to the pandemic, proved that those with reliable, consistent cell phone service have better health outcomes and sense of safety and emotional support.

“I hope the results of this survey will be helpful in forming policy,” said Read, who also directs Grady College’s Brain, Body, and Media (BBAM) Lab. “Something I thought about a lot about during COVID is that if you have interrupted cell phone or internet service,­ you lose everything in a world that has gone digital. One basic way to ensure such an infrastructure is to subsidize both cellphone and internet service.”

This study was conducted by a team of researchers from University of Georgia, Indiana University and University of California – Santa Barbara.

Grady College welcomes four new faculty for start of 2018-19 academic year

Grady College is pleased to welcome four new faculty members to its team starting in the 2018-19 academic year.

Amanda Bright joins Grady College as an academic professional in the Department of Journalism and will be working closely with Newsource and its digital communications, including the launch of a new website this fall.

Bright has an extensive background in journalism and digital communications. Over the past several years, she has worked as a journalist, photographer, editor and designer for a variety of newspapers, newsletters and online publications. Most recently, she was the media content coordinator for Indiana State Online, managing all of the social media accounts for the Indiana college including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and designing digital news publications for students and faculty. While at Indiana State, she earned a Ph.D., focusing on post-secondary education with a media/journalism emphasis. Bright has also served as education editor for MediaShift, writing content for online and digital newsletters, and as assistant editor for Innocent Words Magazine, a magazine and record label based in Oakwood, Illinois.

Bright has served as a journalism instructor, most recently at Eastern Illinois University, and a yearbook advisor. Bright served as the social media director and website co-administrator for the Illinois Journalism Education Association for the last four years. In addition to her doctorate degree, Bright holds a master’s degree in English from Eastern Illinois University and a bachelor of science degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Alexander Pfeuffer joins the Department of Advertising and Public Relations as an assistant professor of advertising. He will teach AdPR research, and advertising and communication management.

Pfeuffer has recently earned a doctorate degree in mass communication from the University of Minnesota. His dissertation studied the impact of sponsorship disclosure in electronic communication. While at the University of Minnesota, he was a teaching assistant for a variety of classes including information for mass communication, media planning, and advertising and society. He also served as a research assistant for Jisu Huh (MA ’00, PhD ‘03). He was the recipient of the Ralph D. Casey Dissertation Research Award in 2017.

Pfeuffer has spent time teaching abroad, as well, teaching English and communication at the Julius-Maximilians-Universitat in Wurzburg, Germany.

In addition to his studies at the University of Minnesota, Pfeuffer has a master’s degree of communication management from the Annenberg School for Journalism and Communication from the University of Southern California and a bachelor of arts degree in communication from George Mason University.

Glenna Read joins AdPR as an assistant professor of advertising teaching media strategy.

Read comes to Grady College from Indiana University where she earned a doctorate in mass communication. She has a minor from IU in psychology and her dissertation was a blend of both areas of study focusing on social identity in advertising.

While at IU, Read taught courses in programming strategies and creative advertising.

Her research has focused on the effects of video games and violence, gender ambiguity in advertisements and facial electromyography, among other subjects. She won the Best Research Paper recognition for a graduate student in 2018.

Read has a master’s degree in experimental psychology from Appalachian State University and a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Georgia State University.

Sabriya Rice assumes the role of Knight Chair for Health and Medical Journalism directing this respected graduate program.

Rice has spent more than 15 years as a reporter covering health care, science and medicine. For the past two years, she has worked as the business of healthcare reporter for the Dallas Morning News, writing about trends in the health care industry. She also served as the quality and safety reporter for Modern Healthcare Magazine for two years, focusing on topics of quality and safety. Visual storytelling and graphics are important aspects of her multi-media features.

In addition to reporting, Rice has been a director of media relations for the American Cancer Society and a writer/producer for CNN, working with CNNHealth.com, Sanjay Gupta and Elizabeth Cohen. Her focus on healthcare storytelling began with a three-year job as producer and on-air reporter for Quest Network Blue Zones, a project in Greece and Costa Rica telling stories of longevity and high life expectancy.

Rice is on the board of the Association of Health Care Journalists and is the recipient of several fellowships including the MayoClinic-Walter Cronkite Medical Journalism Fellowship awarded this past May.

Rice has a bachelor of arts degree in film and television from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Miami.