Thursday, August 14, 2008

Books as Exciting as Film

Booklovers won’t be surprised by the results of a new Dutch study. It may, however, give them the ammunition for a few I-Told-You-Sos. From Quill & Quire:
The next time someone tries to tell you that movies are a more visceral, exciting medium than literature, you can counter their arguments by pointing to a new scientific study that has just been released in the Netherlands.
Researchers at the University of Groningen hooked test subjects up to various cool monitors, showed them short film sequences, made them read and asked them to imagine stuff. Then they watched their brain activity. In all three instances, the anterior insula lit up in the same way. One of the researchers explains that the “anterior insula is the part of the brain that is the heart of our feeling of disgust. Patients who have damage to the insula, because of a brain infection for instance, lose this capacity to feel disgusted. If you give them sour milk, they would drink it happily and say it tastes like soda.”

OK, so, what does that mean to us in real degrees? The same researcher tells us that “whether we see a movie or read a story, the same thing happens: we activate our bodily representations of what it feels like to be disgusted -- and that is why reading a book and viewing a movie can both make us feel as if we literally feel what the protagonist is going through.”

We’ve brought you the short version of this. Quill & Quire has the whole meal deal on their blog, and it’s here.


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