In a research conducted on the pulse rising movies of Alfred Hitchcock, scientists have revealed how suspense affects audience’s brain.
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have claimed that people tend to pay more attention on their surroundings during less suspenseful moments while their brain narrows during suspense scenes and they focus their attention to the story.
Head researcher Matt Bezdek said that many people feel that they get lost in the story while watching a good movie and that the theater disappears around them but now they have brain evidence to support the idea that people are figuratively transported into the narrative.
During the research, the researchers discovered an ebb and flow of brain activity in the calcarine sulcus, the first brain area to receive and process most visual information.
When the suspense grew, brain activity in the peripheral visual processing areas of the calcarine sulcus decreased and activity in the central processing areas increased. For example, during the famous ‘North by Northwest’ scene, the brain narrowed its visual focus as the airplane bore down on Cary Grant.
The researchers further reveal that the calcarine sulcus wasn’t the only part of the brain sensitive to changes in suspense and the same was true for areas involved in higher-order visual areas involved in grouping objects together based on their color and how they’re moving.
The study is published in the journal Neuroscience.