Neuroscientist Takes Scientific Look at Art of Filmmaking

… “One of the striking things about understanding is that you come into the theater with the brain that you evolved over three-and-a-half billion years to understand the and, for the most part, your brain just treats what it’s seeing on the screen as if it were real,” said Zacks, professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences. “Our brains didn’t evolve to watch movies. Movies evolved to take advantage of the brains we have.”

Zacks, who teaches courses on “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Film” and “Advanced Cognitive Psychology,” has spent more than a decade exploring what happens in the brain as we observe the world around us.

A self-described film fan, he began using short films years ago as part of his own laboratory research on how the segments its observance of daily activities into small, meaningful chunks that are easier for the mind to process and store as memories.

“The more I learned about filmmaking, the more I realized that people who make movies have really figured out over time how to get inside the minds of their audiences,” Zacks said. “People who can make good movies turn out to be fantastic intuitive psychologists and neuroscientists.”

“Flicker,” one of the first books on filmmaking by a brain scientist, uses scenes from popular movies as case studies in what the latest neuroscience research can tell us about how we experience moving images. Based on extensive interviews with filmmakers and scientists, the book explores how filmmakers have learned to take advantage of the tricks our minds are already playing on us in real life…

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