Improving Health & Medicine

Cineastes More Alike Than They Think

The Hollywood Reporter • • TAGS: Brain, Culture, Neuroscience

LONDON—Eggheads from the world-renowned scientific center the Weizmann Institute in Israel, conducting research into the brain activity using excerpts from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” as stimulus, have made some startling discoveries.

Using 30 minutes from Sergio Leone’s classic Western and state-of-the-art MRI scanning equipment, the Weizmann research team − led by professor of neurobiology Rafael Malach − have found a striking similarity between brain activity patterns in all viewers, no matter what age or gender they are.

Malach presented his research at a layman’s lecture last week in the auspicious surroundings of the Royal Institution in London. He claimed there are several portions of Leone’s movie for which everyone tested recorded the same brain response.

For instance, when Clint Eastwood is loading his six-shooter, the area of the brain that deals with touch is invariably stimulated.

Malach tested 15 people, male and female, ages 22 to 52. He says his research throws up several findings, but perhaps the most intriguing is that, while many people think they interpret movies in their own individual ways, his research indicates that the brain is “almost mechanical” in dealing with the imagery of film.

"The bit of the brain that is activated when you touch something is activated during watching a movie when the people on screen touch something,” Malach told a packed audience. “But the tsunami of the common visual area is the ‘suspense and surprise’ signal part in the brain. Everyone tested was the same for this, responding to it from the same part of the brain.”

The professor says his results could mean that in the future, moviemakers could use his data in their craft. “From the readings from the brain, you could eventually get to the point where you could cut the perfect trailer from all the footage that activates the parts you want,” he suggests.

The Royal Institution was established in the late-18th century, and today offers a platform for scientific discoveries and pioneering research to be presented to the public. The audience for Malach’s demonstration was visibly wowed by his work.

Malach also revealed which areas of the subjects’ brains were active during love scenes or gunfights. “In the long run, this type of research will certainly be used to help the entertainment industry,” he predicts.

But he warns that using such data from the brain raises moral and even privacy issues. “People tend to think that they are very different in their response to movies, but if it’s an engaging film, we all respond to it in the same way,” he says.

It’s enough to make you think.

Improving Health & Medicine

Cineastes More Alike Than They Think

The Hollywood Reporter • • TAGS: Brain, Culture, Neuroscience

LONDON—Eggheads from the world-renowned scientific center the Weizmann Institute in Israel, conducting research into the brain activity using excerpts from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” as stimulus, have made some startling discoveries.

Using 30 minutes from Sergio Leone’s classic Western and state-of-the-art MRI scanning equipment, the Weizmann research team − led by professor of neurobiology Rafael Malach − have found a striking similarity between brain activity patterns in all viewers, no matter what age or gender they are.

Malach presented his research at a layman’s lecture last week in the auspicious surroundings of the Royal Institution in London. He claimed there are several portions of Leone’s movie for which everyone tested recorded the same brain response.

For instance, when Clint Eastwood is loading his six-shooter, the area of the brain that deals with touch is invariably stimulated.

Malach tested 15 people, male and female, ages 22 to 52. He says his research throws up several findings, but perhaps the most intriguing is that, while many people think they interpret movies in their own individual ways, his research indicates that the brain is “almost mechanical” in dealing with the imagery of film.

"The bit of the brain that is activated when you touch something is activated during watching a movie when the people on screen touch something,” Malach told a packed audience. “But the tsunami of the common visual area is the ‘suspense and surprise’ signal part in the brain. Everyone tested was the same for this, responding to it from the same part of the brain.”

The professor says his results could mean that in the future, moviemakers could use his data in their craft. “From the readings from the brain, you could eventually get to the point where you could cut the perfect trailer from all the footage that activates the parts you want,” he suggests.

The Royal Institution was established in the late-18th century, and today offers a platform for scientific discoveries and pioneering research to be presented to the public. The audience for Malach’s demonstration was visibly wowed by his work.

Malach also revealed which areas of the subjects’ brains were active during love scenes or gunfights. “In the long run, this type of research will certainly be used to help the entertainment industry,” he predicts.

But he warns that using such data from the brain raises moral and even privacy issues. “People tend to think that they are very different in their response to movies, but if it’s an engaging film, we all respond to it in the same way,” he says.

It’s enough to make you think.