Editor: Stephen Prince, Theatre and Cinema, Viriginia Tech
Volume 10 / 2016, 2 issues per volume (summer, winter)
Subjects: Film Studies
Published in association with The Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image
Winner of the 2008 AAP/PSP Prose Award for Best New Journal in the Social Sciences & Humanities!
Neurocinematics: The Neuroscience of Film
This article describes a new method for assessing the effect of a given film on viewers' brain activity. Brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during free viewing of films, and inter-subject correlation analysis (ISC) was used to assess similarities in the spatiotemporal responses across viewers' brains during movie watching. Our results demonstrate that some films can exert considerable control over brain activity and eye movements. However, this was not the case for all types of motion picture sequences, and the level of control over viewers' brain activity differed as a function of movie content, editing, and directing style. We propose that ISC may be useful to film studies by providing a quantitative neuroscientific assessment of the impact of different styles of filmmaking on viewers' brains, and a valuable method for the film industry to better assess its products. Finally, we suggest that this method brings together two separate and largely unrelated disciplines, cognitive neuroscience and film studies, and may open the way for a new interdisciplinary field of “neurocinematic” studies.