It’s kind of weird how, with some movies, critics suggest you “turn your brains off” when it comes to their content, such as the new Transformers movie, Age of Extinction. However, according to a scientific study over at Princeton University, you may use your brain more than you might think.
Uri Hasson, a psychologist over at Princeton, recently presented his research into brain activity at an event hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. With it, he shows what people’s brains actually go through when it comes to watching certain films.
For example, while watching a clip from the classic Clint Eastwood Western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, activity in brain areas rises and falls at the same time in different individuals, depending on moviegoers’ tastes. Synched up brain regions include the primary auditory and visual cortex, along with more specialized regions, such as the fusiform face area, which is able to identify familiar faces – like Eastwood’s.
Movies can have different affects, according to Hasson, as certain structured ones that use quick cuts, camera angles and even slo-mo shots, actually provide a greater effect in getting viewers’ attention. The brain scan above shows how such effects can really work with the brain. Hasson even went to prove this with another scene from the movie Dog Day Afternoon, taking place during a tense bank robbery.
Meanwhile, comedy lets people relax a little bit. A clip from Curb Your Enthusiasm showed that there was elicited synchrony across less than 20 percent of subjects’ cortexes. Reality-based films has an even lighter effect, with less than 5 percent of cortexes used.
It’s definitely an interesting study, and one you may want to keep in mind the next time you’re kicking back with Guardians of the Galaxy or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “Turning your brain off” might not be as simple as it seems.