This article reviews significant developments in affective neuroscience suggesting a refinement of the contemporary theoretical discourse on cinematic empathy. Accumulating evidence in the field points to a philogeneticontogenetic-neural boundary separating empathic processes driven by either cognitive or somato-visceral representations of others. Additional evidence suggests that these processes are linked with parasympathetically driven mitigation and proactive sympathetic arousal. It presents empirical findings from a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) film viewing study, which are in line with this theoretical distinction. The findings are discussed in a proposed cinematographic framework of a general dichotomy between eso (inward-directed) and para (side by side with)—dramatic cinematic factors impinging on visceral representations of real-time occurrences or cognitive representations of another's mind, respectively. It demonstrates the significance of this dichotomy in elucidating the unsettling emotional experience elicited by Michael Haneke's Amour.
Gal Raz and Talma Hendler
Uri Hasson, Ohad Landesman, Barbara Knappmeyer, Ignacio Vallines, Nava Rubin, and David J. Heeger
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.
This article proposes that a major drive in the fast evolution of cinema is that film uniquely fits, exploits and expands the potential of a specialized cognitive machinery in the human brain. This is working memory (WM), a limited capacity processing system that temporarily holds and processes on-line and off-line information under attentional control during the planning and execution of a task. A dominant model of WM depicts multiple components, including a central executive, subordinate workspaces for spatio-visual information and for sound and language, and an episodic buffer that binds episodes on the go and is capable of sorting them into long-term memory. The distinct generic attributes of film and their relevance to the subcomponents and operation of WM in the spectator are described. It is proposed that in watching a movie, WM operates in a special mode, dubbed the representation-of-representation (ROR) mode, in which normal motor response to reality is suppressed. It is further proposed that under proper contextual settings and mind set, the central executive of the spectator relinquishes control to the film information, culminating in a transient rewarding dissociative state. The usefulness of the model is discussed in the framework of the newly emerging discipline of neurocinematics. In evolutionary context, the interaction of film and brain is bidirectional. Film in its broadest sense is an extra-corporeal audiovisual space that allows the human brain to perform detailed past and future mental time travel which, unlike WM and human memory in general, has unlimited capacity, variability and endurance. This augments the original phylogenetic advantage that had probably led to the emergence of episodic memory in the first place.
Eisenstein’s Attractions, Mirror Neurons, and Contemporary Action Cinema
, 94 – 111 . New York : Oxford University Press . 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199862139.003.0005 Raz , Gal , and Talma Hendler . 2014 . “ Forking Cinematic Paths to the Self: Neurocinematically Informed Model of Empathy in Motion Pictures
Jeffrey M. Zacks, Trevor Ponech, Jane Stadler, and Malcolm Turvey
ecological ( Anderson 1996 ) and cognitive ( Bordwell 1989 ) film theory, psychocinematics ( Shimamura 2013 ), and neurocinematics ( Hasson et al. 2008 ). The authors are long-time collaborators who are uniquely qualified to undertake this project. Vittorio
Pascal Wallisch and Jake Alden Whritner
-2370.2008.00240.x Hasson , Uri , Ohad Landesman , Barbara Knappmeyer , Ignacio Vallines , Nava Rubin , and David J. Heeger . 2008 . “ Neurocinematics: The Neuroscience of Film .” Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind 2 ( 1 ): 1 – 26
Andreas Baranowski and Heiko Hecht
neurocinematics. Based on the term, Arthur Shimamura (2013) proposed a broader focus, calling the new discipline psychocinematics. In his book Psychocinematics: Exploring Cognition at the Movies , he brought together some of the most senior film scholars alive
Robert Sinnerbrink and Matthew Cipa
. “ Neurocinematics: The Neuroscience of Film. ” Projections: The Journal of Movie and Mind 2 ( 1 ): 1 – 26 . 10.3167/proj.2008.020102 Shimamura , Arthur P , ed. 2013 . Psychocinematics: Exploring Cognition at the Movies . New York : Oxford University Press
Alan Voodla, Elen Lotman, Martin Kolnes, Richard Naar, and Andero Uusberg
Hendler . 2014 . “ Forking Cinematic Paths to the Self: Neurocinematically Informed Model of Empathy in Motion Pictures .” Projections 8 ( 2 ): 89 – 114 . doi: 10.3167/proj.2014.080206 . 10.3167/proj.2014.080206 Raz , Gal , Yael Jacob , Tal
Brendan Rooney, Hanna Kubicka, Carl Plantinga, James Kendrick, and Johannes Riis
neurocinematics to a broad general readership. Zacks divides the book into two sections. In the first section, “From Up on a Screen to Inside Your Head,” he explores issues of cognition and neuroscience that are not necessarily film-specific but that play a major