Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The neuroscience of cinema

Why do we flinch when Rocky takes a punch in Sylvester Stallone’s movies, duck when the jet careens towards the tower in Airplane, and tap our toes to the dance numbers in Chicago or Moulin Rouge? With this year’s Academy Awards upon us, we want to know what happens between your ears when you sit down in the theatre and the lights go out. Take a look at some of the ways our brains work when watching a movie—you may just find some of them to be all too familiar.

What was the last movie that made you jump, cry, or laugh out loud? Let us know in the comments below.

Headline image credit: Warren G. Harding, movie operator. Library of Congress.

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