Sun. Oct 2nd, 2022

Er staat een demon achter je!  Patrick Wilson speelde in de film van regisseur James Wan uit 2010 <em>Insidious</em>one of two films used in a recent MRI study on anxiety.”/><figcaption class=

enlarge There’s a demon behind you! Patrick Wilson starred in director James Wan’s 2010 film treacherousone of two films used in a recent MRI study on anxiety.

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When we watch horror movies, our brains are hard at work, with a lot of interconnected crosstalk between different regions to anticipate perceived threats and prepare to respond accordingly. This increases our excitement while watching, according to scientists at the University of Turku in Finland. Researchers used an MRI to map subjects’ neural activity while the subjects watched horror movies. Their findings are detailed in a recent paper published in the journal NeuroImage.

According to co-author Matthew Hudson, now at the National College of Ireland in Dublin, the goal was to take a closer look at dynamic interactions in the brain during an intense emotional experience. Most previous studies of neural mechanisms have adopted a binary approach, in that the emphasis is on comparing two conditions. But this ignores the temporal dynamics between the two conditions – the ongoing fear response.

Hudson told Ars, “We wanted to use natural stimuli and new ways to analyze neural data to try to understand exactly how the fear response changes over time” rather than simply comparing brain activity before and after a perceived threat. Horror movies provided the perfect fear-inducing stimulus.

To select which films to use in the study, the Finnish team conducted an online survey of 100 popular horror films — selected based on their IMDb ratings — and 216 “filmoholics” rated the films based on how scary they were, their quality and their popularity, as well as collecting data on how often people watched horror movies and what types of horror they found the scariest. (Psychological horror based on real events was rated the most terrifying, along with unseen or implied threats.) The researchers also counted the number of jumpscares in each movie (courtesy of the wheresthejump database).

In the end, the team chose the film from 2010 treacherous and The incantation 2 (2016) for the study. According to Hudson, both films had the same director (James Wan) and had a fairly high number of jump scares (24 and 22, respectively), plus not many people who participated in the study had seen those films. That ensured that subjects would experience the films in the scanner for the first time – compared to better-known films such as jaws (1975) or The shining (1980). Participants rated their anxiety levels in both films.

The research focused on two types of fear: that creeping sense of doom in a ghostly environment, with a growing sense that something isn’t right, and the instinctive shock response we have to an unexpected sudden appearance of a monster or other threat (a fear of jumping). ). The team found that during the previous scenarios, there is a marked increase in brain activity in terms of visual and auditory perception. In the sudden shock scenarios, there was increased brain activity in regions involved in processing emotions, evaluating threats and making decisions, in order to better respond quickly to perceived threats.

“I was surprised by the relative dominance of visual and auditory areas during the fearful parts of the film,” said Hudson, as these were relatively quiet parts of the film, with a mostly dark screen and little information. He surmised that this indicates that the brain was trying to reduce uncertainty by collecting as much evidence as possible. The researchers also found a high degree of functional connectivity between different brain regions.

“My biggest surprise was how global the fear response is,” Hudson said. “There is a constant transfer of information between all these systems. It makes sense that the whole brain would react to a potential threat at the expense of everything else.”

One person who certainly welcomes this neuroimaging study is Mathias Clasen of Aarhus University in Denmark, author of Why horror seduces, which specializes in studying our response to horror in books, movies, video games, and other forms of entertainment. Clasen has researched the dominant personality traits of horror fans, and last year we reported on his research on two different anxiety-regulating strategies used by subjects who attended a Danish haunted house: “adrenaline junkies” who lean into fear, and “white knuckles” who trying to suppress fear.

Admittedly, the Finnish study didn’t specifically focus on horror — it was simply the use of horror movies to study overlapping fear systems in the brain. But the findings are consistent with Clasen’s own conclusions. “I love how they discover that one brain network triggers wakefulness – sensory cortex activation –and sensitizes another network to action, the one that evokes fight-or-flight,” Clasen told Ars.

“It’s just damn cool that someone is finally using MRI to watch horror.”

“It’s just damn cool that someone is finally using MRI to look at horror,” Clasen said. Their findings confirm my core hypothesis: that horror takes advantage of the evolved fear system. Finally some solid empirical evidence. The classic build-up of horror movies makes us hypervigilant, almost trembling in anxious anticipation, and leads to the jump scare, which triggers a ‘reactionary’ startle response. produces.”

According to Hudson, this kind of research should be broadly applicable to other emotions, so future studies could focus on the brain’s response to comedies or thrillers. Like Classen, he’s intrigued by why we love horror movies so much. “It seems a bit counterintuitive,” he said. “There seems to be an element of appeasing someone’s fears regarding what we perceive as overwhelming, something that we have no control over and that poses a threat to us.”

In addition, many people who responded to the survey said they prefer watching horror movies with other people, indicating that the genre can facilitate social interactions. “There is evidence to show that sharing a traumatic experience creates a sense of social bonding between people,” Hudson said.

To explore this question from a neurological perspective, it may be necessary to look at specific neurotransmitters, such as the opioid system, which are involved in many different emotions, including fear. “I’d like to see what opioid activity takes place in the brain while watching a horror movie and whether these levels can differentiate between people who like horror movies and those who don’t,” Hudson said.

DOI: NeuroImage, 2020. 10.116/j.neuroimage.2020.116522 (About DOIs).

By akfire1

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