Is there any measurable advantage of watching a film in 3D? The answer is yes, as a study has revealed that 3D films exercise the brain and improve short-term functioning in a similar way to brain-training tests.
The research found that people who watched a movie in 3D had improved cognitive skills compared to those who watched it in 2D.
The research was led by neuroscientist Dr Patrick Fagan from Goldsmiths University in London.
More than 100 people took part in the experiment at Vue Piccadilly in London, where participants watched Disney film Big Hero 6 in either standard format or RealD 3D.
They also carried out a brain-training-style test before and after seeing a segment from the film.
The test covered memory, reaction times and cognitive function, and the results were subsequently compared.
According to the research, which was carried out in partnership with science group Thrill Laboratory, participants experienced a 23 per cent increase in cognitive processing, as well as an 11 per cent increase in reaction times.
Dr Fagan said that the results showed enough of an improvement in brain function to suggest that 3D could play a part in improving brain power in the future.
‘These findings are more significant than you might think,’ he said.
‘It is a fact that people are living longer and there is a noticeable decline in cognitive brain function in old age which can impair future quality of life.
ARE 3D MOVIES DANGEROUS?
In December 2014 a French agency claimed that 3D films could damage children’s eyesight.
Anses, France’s national health and safety agency, called for a ban on stereoscopic technology such as 3D films and games for children under the age of six, while it recommended that children below the age of 13 should only use the technology occasionally.
However, vision expert Professor Martin Banks from the University of California at Berkeley claimed there is little evidence to back up a ban, as only short-term discomfort has been recorded in children and adults watching 3D films.
‘There has never been a better time to look at ways to improve brain function.
‘The initial results of this study indicate that 3D films may potentially play a role in slowing this decline.’
A second part of the experiment involved those watching the film being fitted with headsets that scanned brain activity and this too showed heightened activity when watching 3D.
According to the results, participants were seven per cent more engaged with what they were watching, adding to the argument that 3D movies are more like watching real-life – something Professor Brendan Walker from Thrill Laboratory agreed with.
‘A seven per cent rise in emotional engagement is extremely noteworthy. Watching in 3D gives the viewer such an enriched and quality experience, as these results show,’ he said.
‘In evolutionary terms, the results of both parts of the test certainly make sense,’ Dr Fagan added.
‘As Professor Brendan Walker’s test concluded, 3D films are more immersive, heighten the senses and induce emotional arousal – this, in turn, makes the brain run at quicker speeds.’