The Relationship between Brain Activity and Ongoing Thought Patterns during Movie Watching
Raven Wallace1 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Bronte Mckeown1, Adam Turnbull2, Tamara Vanderwal3, Bridget Mulholland1, Louis Chitiz1, Elizabeth Jefferies4, Jeremy Skipper5, Samyogita Hardikar7, Boris Bernhardt8, Daniel Margulies9, Jeff Wammes1, Rob Leech6, Jonathan Smallwood1; 1Queen's University, 2Stanford University, 3University of British Columbia, 4University of York, 5University College London, 6King's College London, 7Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 8McGill University, 9Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)
The relationship between brain activity and ongoing thought patterns during everyday states like movie-watching is poorly understood. One challenge comes from the difficulty of measuring cognition during movies without disrupting how experience and brain activity naturally unfold. Here, we establish a novel method to identify neural correlates of different experiential states during movie-watching while minimally interrupting viewers or disrupting ongoing brain dynamics. Using two samples, we utilized existing fMRI data from 44 participants (Sample 1) who watched three full-length movies and collected experience using multi-dimensional experience sampling (mDES) from 120 participants (Sample 2) who watched 11-minute clips of the same films and responded to comprehension questions. In the lab, mDES was probed five times in each film using a pseudo-randomized probe schedule to create a time course of experience across the clips at a rate of 15 seconds. We identified four patterns of thoughts labelled Episodic Knowledge, Intrusive Distraction, Verbal Detail and Sensory Engagement. The time course of each thought pattern generated by Sample 2 was included as a regressor of interest in a time series analysis of brain activity from Sample 1. This revealed primary visual and auditory cortex were active during periods when experience was characterized by Sensory Engagement — which significantly predicts better scores on the movie comprehension test. Our study highlights an unanticipated role of primary systems in features of experiences and our memories of what we watched in films while introducing a novel method of collecting experience in naturalistic states.
Topic Area: THINKING: Other
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April 13–16 | 2024