Mirror Neurons and Film Studies: A Brief Introduction Mirror neurons are neurons that fire both when a subject executes a movement and when the subject perceives the same movement executed by another. Since their discovery in the early 1990s
A Cautionary Tale from a Serious Pessimist
Eisenstein’s Attractions, Mirror Neurons, and Contemporary Action Cinema
mechanism described in recent scholarship on mirror neurons (the mirror mechanism). I suggest that since much of narrative cinema today operates using automatic effects arguably linked to the mirror mechanism, it is more useful to conceive of mainstream
number of occasions, Smith describes this work—the work of the Parma school on “mirror neurons”—as “controversial,” he nonetheless endorses even some of its most contested claims. In one passage, for example, he characterizes this work as follows: Mirror
In this paper I examine the role of emotions in the initial development of self-awareness through intersubjective communication between mother and infant. I argue that the empirical evidence suggests that the infant's ability to communicate is initially an ability of the infant to share emotions with the mother. In section one I examine the biological foundations that allow infants from birth to interact with others of their own kind, focusing on the abilities which allow them to engage in emotional relationships with others. These include an infant's ability to express, share, and regulate emotions as well as her brain's ability to imitate the neuronal activity of another. In section two, I explore the fit between Sartre's phenomenologically-based account of intersubjectivity in Being and Nothingness and the accounts from psychology and neuroscience that I've examined in section one, focusing on his phenomenology of the Look and the emotional response he claims it elicits. In section three I examine the explanatory gap objection that Sartre among others could raise to my attempt to understand phenomenological accounts of human reality and scientific ones in light of each other. I don't have any final answer to this objection, but I offer some thoughts on why I think it's less of a problem than it might first appear to be.
and aesthetic phenomena within the cognitive sciences. I will then tackle naturalized aesthetics in a more applied manner using one of Smith’s prime example of research in neuroaesthetics, namely the role of the mirror neuron system (MNS) for empathy
Maarten Coëgnarts and Peter Kravanja
This article examines embodied visual meaning in film, the ways that film makes use of recurring dynamic patterns of our shared bodily interactions with the world (image schemas) to communicate abstract meaning to the viewer. Following the lead of recent discoveries in the field of neuroscience, the article argues that this metaphorical transference of abstract thought by means of image schemas is possible via the activation of embodied mirroring mechanisms in the observer. This empathetic and physical encounter of the viewer with the representational content and form of the work is crucial to the understanding of abstract conceptual thought in film.
Film theory has been much involved with psychology, especially with the viewer's perceptual and emotional response to the images on the screen. Psychoanalytic and cognitive film theories, though not exactly kindred spirits, have so far dominated psychological film studies. At the present time, technology offers neuroscience methods to explore the brain that open up the discourse on the mind. This article explains ways in which neuroscience, and its study of the brain, can extend our understanding and theory of film by exploring three areas of our response to cinema. Although the perception of motion is a complicated business, the phenomenon of implied motion suggests the brain's readiness to find movement even when there is none and links together many of the same perceptual mechanisms we use when viewing film and also the world outside the theater. Attention, focus, and binding are essential for us to make sense of the vast amount of stimuli that bombard our eyes. They explain what we see and do not see when viewing film and also the way film technique controls our understanding of the action on the screen. Finally, the argument about what we feel and do not feel when watching the characters on the screen may receive some clarification by neuroscience's investigation of "mirror neurons" in our brain.
Film Studies and Analytic Aesthetics in Dialogue
Mario Slugan and Enrico Terrone
account of depiction. Malcom Turvey criticizes the uses of the mirror-neurons hypothesis to explain film experience, arguing that the latter is more complex than the way neuroscience-based approaches portray it. As for film appreciation, analytic
Jeffrey M. Zacks, Trevor Ponech, Jane Stadler, and Malcolm Turvey
Gallese is an eminent neurophysiologist who is one of the co-discoverers of mirror neurons ( Rizzolatti et al. 2001 ). Michele Guerra is a film theorist and culture minister. The book opens with a somewhat polemical argument for the embodied simulation
unconsciously mimic facial expressions of emotion, generating a kind of emotional contagion wherein we automatically and nonconsciously “catch” others’ emotions. In line with the claims of neuroscientists, Smith assumes that mirror neurons—neurons that are