Certain Movie Techniques Synchronize Viewers’ Brain Activity, August-September 2014

Uri Hasson, a psychologist at Princeton University, conducted a series of studies on the effects of certain movie scenes on the brains of the viewers.   Among his findings, it was reported, was that the more structured the media, then the more synchronized the brain activity was in the viewers.  For example, subjects were shown clips from Dog Day Afternoon (a bank robbery scene), improvisation comedy from Curb Your Enthusiasm, and random video of a crowd watching a music performance.  Brain activity was synchronized “across nearly 70 percent of the cortex” in the viewers, in contrast to the comedy clip, which led to less than 20 percent synchronous activity, and less than 5 percent in the random crowd clip.

“If you want people to think alike and be in synch, you could use this tool,” Hasson was quoted as saying. “If you want people to think differently, you could also use it.”

Source:  Greg Miller, “How Movies Synchronize the Brains of an Audience,” wired.com, August 28, 2014: http://www.wired.com/2014/08/cinema-science-mind-meld/

by Neil Leithauser
Associate Editor