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The Twitter Spot in Your Brain

These days, you can’t go online without bumping into someone styling himself as a social media guru, a Facebook expert, or a power user of Twitter. And, if you check their online profiles, they actually do have thousands of friends and followers. But are these real friends, or did the supposed expert socializers simply crank up an automation software to rapidly build their follower base? Surprisingly, how capable of being social a person is can be revealed by a brain scan. […]

By |December 27th, 2010|

Close Your Eyes, Change Your Brain

I find I close my eyes to “enhance” my other senses. If I’m trying to hear a barely audible voicemail, for example, I often close my eyes. I always assumed that I was merely reducing visual stimuli and hence freeing up my brain to devote more resources to listening. That might be true, but new research suggests that the reality is more complex. Shutting one’s eyes causes one to actually go into a different state of mind, according to researcher Talma Hendler, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at Tel Aviv University in Israel. […]

By |August 6th, 2009|

Synthetic Fear: How to Make a Scary Movie

Over the years, movie-makers have tried to go beyond what’s on the screen to scare theatergoers. In the 1950s, director William Castle startled those viewing his horror films, notably The Tingler, with gimmicks like vibrators installed under some theater seats. When the creature escapes into a theater in the movie, Vincent Price’s voice warns the viewers that the Tingler is loose and tells them to scream. At this moment, the theater projectionist would activate buzzers under the seats of a few people in the audience, often eliciting the desired screams.

Smell-O-Vision was another attempt to go beyond the screen by inducing odors at appropriate points, but technical flaws ruined its 1960 debut and it was abandoned. Infrasound, very low frequency audio which humans don’t consciously perceive, has been used in movies to amplify audience fear.

While we haven’t seen 1950s-style panic-inducing creativity lately, neuroscience may be close to giving today’s directors an even more powerful tool: […]

By |August 3rd, 2009|