Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This is your brain on media

Remember that commercial: this is your brain? Now this is your brain on drugs. Egg cracks! Whoosh. And there goes your brain all fried in a gooey tasty yummy sunny side up dish.
Well . . . today I’m going to tell you what happens to your brain as you watch shows . . . perhaps even as you read this blog. This will be a little participatory, so go ahead and relax, kick back.

First – have you eaten breakfast today? Do you need a little snacky snack? Perfecto! Please go ahead and grab that breakfast bar next to you, those carrots, grapes… whatever you want to munch on. No, I’ll wait. Don’t worry. I’ll be right here.

Oh, you’re back? Is it tasty? Can I have some too?

How does this picture make you feel?
Does it give you the warm and fuzzies?

Now answer these trivia questions if you can. (Answers provided at end of post)
1. What three European countries begin with the letter A?
2. What became America’s first organized sport in 1664?
3. How many Rocky movies were made by 1990?

How this relates to a recent theory in Entertainment Education is with MacLean’s Triune Brain Theory. MacLean said that there are three brain centers where you process messages. These brain centers are the neo-cortex (intelligence), visceral (emotions), and reptilian (physical urges).

When you’re born, you begin with a reptilian brain and then develop your visceral brain and finally a neo-cortex capability. A reptilian center processes messages about food, sex, and aggressiveness, while the visceral center processes emotional messages, things that tug at your heart strings. The neo-cortex center processes intellectual activity and according to MacLean is only found in human beings.

MacLean believes that when the neo-cortex brain is out of whack with the two other brains that this leads to conflict in a person’s inner drives. Imagine that you are angry at someone, but logically you don’t want to react with punching and fighting. If a person’s three brain dimensions are not developed in synch, then one may find themselves in great inner turmoil as to what the actual response would be.

Thus, in EE programs, it the goal to stimulate both the reptilian and visceral brains by virtue of its entertainment qualities, which can then feed into a neo-cortex frame of thinking for audiences after viewing/listening to the program. When a person is able to pontificate about the scenes they just viewed in a program, it often gets them to question their societal norms and if/how these norms should be changed.

An example of a popular program that I think utilizes some of the neo-cortex and reptilian centers might be something like the Daily Show, which uses humor to convey current events.
As you go about your day today think about any of the ads that you come across and its message. What part of your brain is responding to it? Oh yes, now you might know why sex sells.

1) Albania, Andorra, Austria 2) horse racing 3) 5


kcm said...

Andorra? Come on!

Off to consult my map now...


Captain Judy said...

Yeah! Who knew? I would have said "umm... A France" ; )

ugandaloveit said...

I kinda feel bad that I skipped over all your neuroscience stuff, but I just wanted to see if I got the three countries right (which, of course, I did)! I feel better about myself already :)

Cory Biggs said...

I got the three countries and the number of Rocky movies... I missed horse racing... shoulda known!

I have work to do before "Jeopardy!" comes calling.

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