Motion cues modulate responses to emotion in movies

Eran Dayan*, Avi Barliya, Beatrice De Gelder, Talma Hendler, Rafael Malach, Tamar Flash

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Film theorists and practitioners suggest that motion can be manipulated in movie scenes to elicit emotional responses in viewers. However, our understanding of the role of motion in emotion perception remains limited. On the one hand, movies continuously depict local motion- movements of objects and humans, which are crucial for generating emotional responses. Movie scenes also frequently portray global motion, mainly induced by large camera movements, global motion being yet another source of information used by the brain during natural vision. Here we used functional MRI to elucidate the contributions of local and global motion to emotion perception during movie viewing. Subjects observed long (1 min) movie segments depicting emotional or neutral content. Brain activity in areas that showed preferential responses to emotional content was strongly linked over time with frame-wide variations in global motion, and to a lesser extent with local motion information. Similarly, stronger responses to emotional content were recorded within regions of interest whose activity was attuned to global and local motion over time. Since global motion fields are experienced during self-motion, we suggest that camera movements may induce illusory self-motion cues in viewers that interact with the movie's narrative and with other emotional cues in generating affective responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10881
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
7th Framework ProgrammeEC FP7-ICT-248311 AMARSi, EC FP7-ICT-249858
EU Commission
Seventh Framework Programme248311, 257695, 249858
Israel Science Foundation51/11
Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education of Israel


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