Neurocinema

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Neurocinema or Neurocinematics is how watching movies, or particular scenes from movies effect our brains, and the response the human brain gives to any given movie or scene.[1] The term Neurocinema comes from neurologists who are studying which pieces of a film can have to most control over a viewers brain.[2] These studies are conducted with viewers who are screened movies while being monitored in fMRI machines that map the brains activity. Studies have shown that certain scenes in certain films stimulate different part of the brain in different ways. Gaining this knowledge is not only beneficial on a neuroscience level, but for filmmakers as well.

History[edit]

Although these studies began in the 2000’s, this idea has been around since the early years of film. This is demonstrated with Sergei Eisenstein’s experiments with montage theory and Lev Kuleshov’s famous “Kuleshov Effect”. These Russian filmmakers studied American filmmakers such as D.W. Griffith and discovered that film was a “malleable” art. The Kuleshov Effect proved that the juxtaposition of a series of images together can create ideas and emotions in an audience’s mind. This revolutionized propaganda in the Soviet Union to spread the influence the collective strength of a new Marxist state after the revolution of 1917.[3]

This idea has grown ever since. Alfred Hitchcock referred to this idea of film saying, “[Film] creation is based on an exact science of audience reactions”.[4] He said this long before MRI technology was even fathomable. In more recent years marketing agencies have had their foot in the door with these studies in terms of neuromarketing. They use “fMRI, EEG, galvanic skin response, eye-tracking and other biometric approaches” to screen trailers to show studios and production companies how to best market a film for distribution.[5]

Science[edit]

These studies are conducted with viewers’ laying on their backs with a mirror above them. Movies are projected onto those mirrors and sound is transmitted by the subjects wearing high-fidelity MRI compatible headphones. As the viewers’ watch these films they are being monitored in fMRI machines that map the brains activity. When the studies are conducted the participants are told they can look where ever they please, which is referred to as “free-viewing”, and they were told they could stop the study at any point. Interestingly, all the participants in the study had similar eye movement and stimulation in areas of the brain when shown certain movies, scenes or clips of video regardless of the “free-viewing” method that was in place. This was documented by a new method of “Inter-Subject Correlation” in which they mapped the brain activity of the participants and aligned them over the same timeline.[6]

Current Application[edit]

Peter Katz, working with MindSign Neuromarketing is another group involved in the neurological studies of film. He and his team are bringing this “current market research” by focusing on specific genre’s to gain an understanding of how directors could affect an audience’s subconscious mind. For example, in the horror genre, MRI used to view activity in the amygdala to look for fear, anger, rage and fight or flight type emotions. By using information obtained from MRIs they can determine exactly what scenes and even specific images invoke an emotional response, or the opposite. The potential for this kind of information is that it can be more accurate than forms filled out at the end of test screenings since the data is recorded in the moment, and is recording how they the subjects are subconsciously reacting, as opposed to how they consciously perceive they are reacting.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hasson, Uri et al. "Neurocinematics: The Neuroscience of Film." Projections: Journal for Movies and Mind 2:1, Summer 2008: 1-26. <http://hlab.princeton.edu/Papers/Hasson_Neurocinematics_2008.pdf>
  2. ^ "BrainCraft", PBS Digital Studios. "How Movies Control Our Brain." Online Video Clip. YouTube. Youtube, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyQYYLsXhqc>
  3. ^ Giannetti, Louis; Eyman, Scott (July 24, 2009). Flashback: A Brief History of Film (6th ed.). Pearson. ISBN 0205695906. 
  4. ^ "BrainCraft", PBS Digital Studios. "How Movies Control Our Brain." Online Video Clip. YouTube. Youtube, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyQYYLsXhqc>
  5. ^ Randall, Kevin. "Rise of Neurocinema: How Hollywood Studios Harness Your Brainwaves to Win Oscars." Fast Company. 25 Feb. 2011. Web. 3 Apr. 2015. <http://www.fastcompany.com/1731055/rise-neurocinema-how-hollywood-studios-harness-your-brainwaves-win-oscars>.
  6. ^ Hasson, Uri et al. "Neurocinematics: The Neuroscience of Film." Projections: Journal for Movies and Mind 2:1, Summer 2008: 1-26. <http://hlab.princeton.edu/Papers/Hasson_Neurocinematics_2008.pdf>
  7. ^ Silver, Curtis. "Neurocinema Aims to Change the Way Movies Are Made." WIRED. Condé Nast, 23 Sept. 2009. Web. 31 Mar. 2015. <http://archive.wired.com/geekdad/2009/09/neurocinema-aims-to-change-the-way-movies-are-made/>.