Your Brain on Movies

Book - 2014
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How is it that a patch of flickering light on a wall can produce experiences that engage our imaginations and can feel totally real? From the vertigo of a skydive to the emotional charge of an unexpected victory or defeat, movies give us some of our most vivid experiences and most lastingmemories. They reshape our emotions and worldviews - but why?In Flicker, Jeff Zacks delves into the history of cinema and the latest research to explain what happens between your ears when you sit down in the theatre and the lights go out. Some of the questions Flicker answers: Why do we flinch when Rocky takes a punch in Sylvester Stallone's movies, duckwhen the jet careens towards the tower in Airplane, and tap our toes to the dance numbers in Chicago or Moulin Rouge? Why do so many of us cry at the movies? What's the difference between remembering what happened in a movie and what happened in real life - and can we always tell the difference? Toanswer these questions and more, Flicker gives us an engaging, fast-paced look at what happens in your head when you watch a movie.
Publisher: Oxford [England] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2014.
ISBN: 9780199982875
Branch Call Number: 791.4301 ZACKS
Characteristics: xi, 342 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Sep 26, 2015

Any book like this, based on many studies, that are discussed, is worth at least paging through for them. Thus, if you have any interest in the subject, this is at least worth a browse. There are technical patches, which goes with the territory of course.
He raises an intriguing question: "If reading leads to model building, and model building depends on the same maps as perception and action, then what we are reading about should directly influence our perceptions and actions. Does it?"

Elsewhere he makes a provocative analogy: [commercial] movies as the eyes equivalent of junk food- tailored to hit ones buttons but at the expense of health.

There is a fundamental weakness to this book: it's print trying to explain the visual, motion visuals at that. It lacks an accompanying DVD, or at least a parallel website illustrating at least some of its more esoteric points. Dumb dumb dumb!

Its strength and weakness: a focus on nuts and bolts.
It lacks an overview of films effects and role [emotional stimulant, social substitute etc.]. Films are prefab canned dreams and you experience them 'eyes wide shut'. References to hemispheric lateralization are also missing. [If there are no shifts from 'real world' perception, then even that negative warrants expression.]
I suspect this book will be another brick in the wall of cognitive neuroscience, nothing more.
He pitches to filmmakers, but with his poor expository skills, i doubt many will bother trying to wade through his explanations of, for instance, the brain effects of different forms of edits.
But even if i'm right about all the above, and i'm right in criticizing him for not being another McLuhan, he illuminates a rarely dealt with common modern experience, so he is worth a gander.

Another great section [quote]: "a discussion on insensitivity to film 'continuity' [not making accidental changes between takes] ends with, "The name for the phenomenon, change blindness, is absolutely ubiquitous... You can test it at: dansimons.com/videos.html, and ww2.psy uch.ubc.ca/~resink/flicker/download. You'll be shocked at how difficult it is, but it's not just you.
Dan Levin has studied it in the lab. He asked large numbers of people how they thought they would do on the continuity task. No matter how carefully he described the task, people radically overestimated their performance We appear not only to be blind to many visual changes, but we are also blind to the fact that we are so blind. Appropriately, Dan dubbed the overconfidence change blindness blindness."

I suggest this blindness extends from the sensory to the cognitive, that is, that we are equally blind to inconsistencies in our beliefs, that we are blind to our mindblindness.


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