How Movies Control Your Mind

On Psychology and Neuroscience


Neurocinematics is a recent field that explores how our brains respond to movies. Uri Hasson, a neuroscientist who has dedicated much research to this field and who now works in Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute, uses fMRI and inter-subject correlation (ISC) to determine how similarly an audience’s brain reacts to films and thus how well a film is able to control its audiences’ brains. For example, when subjects were placed in an fMRI machine while watching a 30 minute clip of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” Hasson and his colleagues found that 45% of the viewers’ neocortex had high ISC. This included areas involved in primary sensory perception, such as visual areas in the occipital and temporal cortex, Heschl’s gyrus, Wernicke’s area, some limbic areas, the fusiform face area and some association cortex. However, viewers’ brains had low ISC among areas such as the supramarginal gyrus, the angular…

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