Georgia Institute of Technology

How Alfred Hitchcock affects your brain

There is a reason why filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock was known as the “master of suspense,” but how does watching his films affect our brains? Researchers believe the narrative context of a film does affect where our eyes go first in moments of suspense, Futurity reports. To test this, they had 18 people watch North by Northwest and other Hitchcock films under an MRI machine and measured brain activity. Each film had a flashing checkerboard pattern around the edges of the screen to see whether suspense affected our usual response to this pattern. They found that during moments of “suspense” participants’ field of vision was narrow, focusing only on the story and subconsciously ignoring the checkerboard. On the other hand, in less suspenseful moments, viewers’ fields of vision were broad, devoting more attention to their surroundings.