Flicker: Your Brain on Movies

Flicker: Your Brain on Movies

Language: English

Pages: 360

ISBN: 0199982872

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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 lasting memories. 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 in your head 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, duck when 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 what happened in a movie and what happened in real life--and can we always tell the difference? To answer these questions and more, Flicker gives us an engaging, fast-paced look at the mind's fascinating relationship with the silver screen.

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little story with efficient editing and almost no language. A raft of data, mostly from studies of reading, suggested that people incorporate new information into their models when the information changes. This makes sense. In The Red Balloon, when the boy enters the school you might update spatial aspects of your event model. When he unties the balloon you might activate motor features related to grasping and manipulating. We went through the movie and found all the spatial changes, such as when

increasingly interested with how features of stories affected the ways readers processed them. He now directs the brain and cognition group at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Art Glenberg studied experimental psychology, writing his dissertation on memory for lists of words. Gradually he became convinced that memory did not evolve for memorizing word lists, and focused more and more on the kinds of representations that memory builds. By the 1990s, both Zwaan and Glenberg believed that when we read

she told? 62  From Up on a Screen to Inside Your Head That said, there is evidence that viewers’ expressions match those of the actors. In one study, researchers made movies of people describing a happy or sad experience. As you would expect, the happy movie included more smiling and the sad movie more sad expressions. The researchers then showed both movies to viewers, while videotaping the viewers. Sure enough, the viewers smiled more during the movie with more smiling and displayed more

more jarring because Hitchcock and his collaborators were such masters of editing. As the opening credits roll, the film starts with a helicopter shot of the skyline of Phoenix, Arizona. The shot zooms in on a hotel, and fades quickly to a shot framing a window of one of the rooms (Figure 7.7, top). As the camera continues to approach the building, there is a cut to another view of the window from a different angle (Figure 7.7, bottom). At this point, the window appears to jump from left to

they performed goal-directed actions like 16  From Up on a Screen to Inside Your Head reaching for a peanut. The researchers were recording from one of the higher-level areas in the motor hierarchy. Cells in this area were very selective for particular goal-directed actions:  One cell might respond when the monkey picked up a peanut with its right hand by pinching the nut between its first and second fingers, but not when the monkey used its whole fist to grasp the nut or pinched its fingers

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