Movies with High Drama Keep You Glued

New study says that movie scenes high in emotional quotient, both audio and video, create a pattern in the human brain.

It is known that filmmakers, the good ones, use various ways to entice people and get them more involved in the movie. The new research has found that these visual and auditory inputs actually cause the brain to respond in a certain way.

The researchers hooked up 20 participants to EEG scanner while they watched movies. Three movies were shown. First one was Alfred Hitchcock's "Bang! You're Dead" and second was Sergio Leone's "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". Both these movies have moments of high drama expected to trigger responses. The third movie was a control that was an amateur film of people walking on a college campus.

"Peak correlations of neural activity across viewings can occur in remarkable correspondence with arousing moments of the film. Moreover, a significant reduction in neural correlation occurs upon a second viewing of the film or when the narrative is disrupted by presenting its scenes scrambled in time," the researchers said.

The EEG alpha graph shows a person's attentiveness. Scenes that had high drama resulted in the waves

"We found moments of high correlation (between brainwave activity during separate viewings) and moments when this did not occur. By looking at patterns of oscillation we could tell at which moments a person was particularly engaged. Additionally, we could see whether the correlation occurred across subjects and repeated viewings," said Dr. Lucas C. Parra, Herbert G. Kayser Professor of Biomedical Engineering in CCNY's Grove School of Engineering, and an author of the study.

Advertisers and film-makers are constantly looking out for ways that could get attention of the viewers.

"The potential to measure engagement is huge since this provides an objective way to collect data," added Dr. Dmochowski.

In future studies, the researchers are trying to find if there is a relation between social media use and movie-watching.

"We are mining Twitter to measure the depth of watching. We think there will be many correlations between scenes that elicit social media responses and neural signatures, and we can look at both positive and negative responses," he said.