Have you ever wondered what happens in the brain when you are watching a movie?

Uri Hansson (2008) at Princeton University was among the first to investigate how the brain responds to movies using an fMRI brain scanner. This new approach, known as neurocinematics, is a term coined by him.

In the article Neurocinematics: the Neuroscience of Film, he described a new method for assessing the effect of a given film on viewers’ brain activity. Brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during free viewing of films, and inter-subject correlation analysis (ISC) was used to assess similarities in the spatiotemporal responses across viewers’ brains during movie watching. They found that some films can exert considerable control over brain activity and eye movements, but this was not the case for all types of motion picture sequences. In fact, the level of control over viewers’ brain activity differed as a function of movie content, editing, and directing style, for example the brain activity responses are different in 3D film or in horror movies. HANSSON, U. (2008) Neurocinematis: The Nourosciece of Film. Berghahn Journals Vol. 2 (I):1-25

Available from:

[Accessed: 16th February 2016]


The last year Eelco F.M. Wijdicks, wrote a book that is the most recent contribution to this perspective, with the title Neurocinema: When Film Meets Neurology. Through this book, he examines the cinematic treatments of 22 neurological conditions presented in over 100 movies. This collection of film summarizes the portrayal of major neurologic syndromes and clinical signs in cinema that makes possible to know the consequences about the disorders. Furthermore, the themes include sudden confrontation with a major neurologic illness, disability from chronic neurologic disease, and failure to lead a normal life. WIJDICKS, E.F.M.(2015). Neurocinema: When Film Meets Neurology. Taylor & Francis Group.

A summary available from:

[Accessed: 16th February 2016]

Scientists and film producers show interest in neuroscience-related films. The first ones try to understand what is happening at the neurological, physiological and psychological level while the second ones want to attract a greater number of moviegoers.


Ruth Talavera Flores


Research Associate & IRIANS’s Representative for

the Iberian Peninsula and Mexico

IRIANS – The Neuroscience Institute


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