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Author Topic: Clint holds the key to empathy  (Read 5880 times)
allycat
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« on: March 12, 2004, 07:10:12 AM »

In today's (UK) Times newspaper, there is an interesting science article which is bizarrely linked to Clint. I’ve tried to find the article on the Times Online site but for some reason it’s nowhere to be found, so the best I can do is type it out for you. There’s a nice pic of Clint as the Man with No Name too. Perhaps if I scan it into the computer and e-mail it to Matt then he can post the article and/or picture. Anyway, for now, read on:

Clint holds the key to empathy

Clint Eastwood has helped scientists to answer one of the most enduring questions about the human brain: whether different people perceive the world in the same or different ways.
When people watch Eastwood’s classic 1966 spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, their brains respond with characteristic patterns of activity that prove everybody is seeing much the same thing, new research has shown.
The findings provide important evidence that all human brains process visual information in similar enough fashion for us to be reasonably certain that what we see of the world around us is also what everybody else can see.
Variations between individual brains mean that people may react very differently to particular visual stimuli, such as violence or emotional scenes in a film, but the stimuli themselves appear to be perceived the same way by everybody.
The issue of whether one person sees the same thing as another – that the colour blue, for example, means the same thing to everyone – has taxed scientists and philosophers for generations. To test the similarity of individuals’ brains in a more realistic context, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science and Tel Aviv University in Israel, used MRI to scan the brains of volunteers as they watched 30 minutes of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
“We reasoned that such rich and complex stimulation will be much closer to ecological vision relative to the highly constrained visual stimuli used in the laboratory,” said Uri Hasson, who led the team.
The results, details of which are published today in the journal Science, revealed a remarkable level of correspondence between the viewers’ brains.
Spikes of activity in particular regions tended to match particular episodes in the film across all the volunteers. Emotional scenes, such as those including gunshots and explosions, produced some of the most markedly consistent brain responses.
“The results reveal a surprising tendency of individual brains to ‘tick collectively’ during natural vision,” he said.
Luiz Pessoa, of Brown University in Rhode Island, said: “There might be, after all, ample cortex for you and I to experience The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in a unique way. It also means that there is enough work to keep neuroscientists busy for quite a long time.”

(Ally's note: If I had been one of the volunteers, I would’ve insisted on watching The Good, the Bad and the Ugly all the way through, not just for 30 minutes! Good on Uri Hasson for referring to the film as “such rich and complex stimulation” though :))
« Last Edit: March 12, 2004, 07:12:10 AM by allycat » Logged

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allycat
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2004, 03:30:32 PM »

Well I thought it was interesting, anyway  :-[

Comments, feedback...!
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KC
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2004, 06:33:41 PM »

Can't think of much to add, Ally ... except that The New York Times picked up the story too ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/16/health/16PERC.html

Quote
VITAL SIGNS
Perceptions: At the Movies: Brains in Sync
By JOHN O'NEIL

Published: March 16, 2004


It may seem obvious that everyone in a theater is watching the same movie.

But when neuroscientists popped test subjects into a brain scanner to see "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," they were startled to learn that the subjects were all viewing the movie in basically the same way, a far more complicated notion.

The researchers said the experiment showed what they called "a surprising tendency for brains to tick together."

Overall levels of brain activity rose and fell in a consistent pattern, with peaks corresponding to climactic events like gunfire, the lead researcher, Prof. Rafael Malach of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, said. By contrast, there was little correlation among the patterns in a group of subjects in a darkened scanner.

Specific brain regions flashed on and off again simultaneously, Professor Malach said, with the areas known to be involved in the processing of facial images all activated in close-ups, while a neighboring region was turned on for vistas.

The point of the research, published last Friday in the journal Science, was not gauging the universality of Clint Eastwood's appeal. Rather, it sought to find a way around a methodological handicap of the growing field of brain-activation research. Experiments in the field mostly involve static tasks meant to focus on one brain region at a time, Professor Malach said, but the brain does not usually work that way.

Giving subjects a more natural task let the researchers "find what a brain area `likes to see' without the need to have any preconceived notion of its functionality," he said, adding, "We found that an area in the brain that was previously associated with the sense of touch is also active whenever there are scenes which include delicate hand movements."

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allycat
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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2004, 10:05:03 AM »

Thanks KC, you're a real sweetie. I thought the UK Times version put more of an angle on Clint though - seeing as he was in the title and all. He's hardly mentioned in the NY Times article.

Anyway I don't need a newspaper article to tell me that Clint stimulates the brain. Plus other areas of course ;)
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I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
KC
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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2004, 10:19:55 AM »

Well, the NY Times article does say ...
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The point of the research ... was not gauging the universality of Clint Eastwood's appeal.


Personally, I thought it was strange that neither article mentioned a fellow by the name of Sergio Leone.  ???
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allycat
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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2004, 10:29:31 AM »

The Times article didn't say that. They made Clint the focus of the article, from the title, anyway. Although I know Clint wasn't supposed to be the focus of the study.

Yes, strange they didn't mention Sergio Leone. Although the article was more to do with science than anything else. If it had been geared towards film, then they would've mentioned him I guess. Perhaps the article's author thinks that most scientists wouldn't know who Leone was anyway, or wouldn't be interested.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2004, 10:35:26 AM by allycat » Logged

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2004, 11:05:51 AM »

Well, the author of the (London) Times article was clearly trying to find a way to slant "dry" subject matter so that it would grab the attention of general interst readers. In the final analysis, what's interesting about the whole story isn't what the research reveals or doesn't reveal ... it's what one journalist picked up on as the one element in a science story that was likely to "ring a bell" with newspaper readers, and that is our Clint! (Whereas another journalist thought it was enough to put "movies" in the headline.)

One caveat ... of course, authors of newspaper stories don't always write their own headlines! But the (London) Times story still begins the lead paragraph with the words "Clint Eastwood."
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cwphoto
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2004, 10:46:45 PM »

Stumbled across this piece in Sydney's Broadsheet today; Israeli scientists apparently used a 30min scene from GBU to study brain stimulation! ;D

Here is a link to the article:

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/03/12/1078594571924.html?from=storyrhs
« Last Edit: April 20, 2004, 10:47:29 PM by cwphoto » Logged

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Matt
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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2004, 11:48:55 PM »

Thanks for posting, cwphoto.

Allycat had originally posted something about this, so I've merged your topic with hers.
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masterchief
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2004, 12:50:40 PM »

Thats All Very Intresting, nice find's  :)
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Mr Soul
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« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2004, 08:41:23 PM »

Interesting article.  Thanks for the post!
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