Brain Reactions to Film Watching
by Audrey Czarnecki
Category: Social Sciences
Abstract – This systematic review sought to uncover the mechanisms through which films induce certain emotions and the ways in which people’s brains respond to those stimuli through the lens of neuroscience. Films vary in composition, though many make use of motion, both through characters and the camera, to elicit emotions. They also use previously successful scene setups and actor castings for a similar effect. Brain regions have differential reactions to films, especially in response to film duration, category, and context. Brain hemispheres generally differ from each other in their responses as well, such as in response to positive versus negative stimuli. People’s characteristics, such as empathy levels and age, can also influence the level to which the brain responds to films and the differences between activation levels of different regions. Substance abuse alters the brain’s chemistry; it can also increase the activation of specific brain regions. Several studies utilize electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging; their limitations are discussed. Future research could also explore other possible measures of emotional response to films.