Film, Emotion, and Neuroscience

Learn how iconic filmmakers heighten the senses with sound, and find out more about the emerging field of neurocinematics.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


May 17, 2013 from 12:15 pm to 3:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

Kubrick, Scorsese, Lynch, Hitchcock. These iconic filmmakers exhibit mastery of combining images and sound to heighten suspense and drama. Session 4 of “Feel the Music,” a forum on music and emotions, analyzes different styles of filmmaking and the way various techniques change a viewer’s experience—even the brain’s response, as seen with fMRI. Could this provide a quantitative way of testing the success of a film and lead to an interdisciplinary field of cognitive neuroscience and film studies, called “neurocinematics”? The session ends with a workshop on Hitchcock’s emotion-building techniques.

Related events

Session 1: Emotion in Music and the Singing Voice May 16 at 8:30 pm

Session 2: Music: The Conjunction of Art and Science May 16 at 2:00 pm

Session 3: Emerging Technologies in Music Research May 17 at 8:30 pm

Voice and Strings: Conversations in Music May 16 at 7:00 pm

Meanderings May 17 at 7:00 pm

Feel the Music: NightLife May 9 at 6:00 pm

Snowsteps and Steffen Schmidt at ArtpadSF May 18 7:30 pm


1:15 pm

 Music Magic in Film

Patrizia Lombardo, Professor of French Literature, Comparative Literature, and Film Studies, Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva

1:45 pm

 Neurocinematics: The Neuroscience of Film

Uri Hasson, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University

2:15 pm

 coffee break

2:30 pm

 Can We Hear Music Without Our Eyes?

Mark degli Antoni, film score composer

3:00 pm

 Elemental Frequencies: The Cinematic Experience Turned Inwards

Kent Long, Technical Director, San Francisco Art Institute

3:30 pm

 How Hitchcock Builds Emotion

Workshop Led by Patrizia Lombardo, Uri Hasson, Kent Long and Steffen Schmidt


Patrizia Lombardo

After completing doctorates in Venice and Paris, Patrizia Lombardo taught at Princeton University, the University of Southern California, and the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a professor of French literature, comparative literature, and film studies at the University of Geneva. Since 2009, she has led the project, “Affective Dynamics and Aesthetic Emotions,” at the Swiss National Centre in Competence in Research (NCCR) in Affective Sciences. She has published extensively on 18th, 19th, and 20th century literature (mainly French, British, and American), literary and art criticism, critical theory, aesthetics, architectural theory, film studies, and theories of emotions.


Uri Hasson

Uri Hasson is an assistant professor in the department of psychology and at the Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University. He received his doctorate in neurobiology from the Weizmann Institute in Israel. He was a postdoctoral fellow at NYU before moving to Princeton. His research is aimed at understanding how the brain processes real-life complex information and interacts with the environment, with a focus on the integration of complex information over time and the interaction between two individuals and two brains during natural communication.


Mark degli Antoni

Mark degli Antoni is a film composer and performer living in Los Angeles and New York. He studied composition with Milton Babbitt and David Loeb, and counterpoint with Dr. Carl Schachter. He earned a BM & MM in Composition from the Mannes College of Music in Manhattan. Mark co-founded the internationally acclaimed Warner Bros band Soul Coughing —writing, playing keyboards and electronics. Additionally, he has performed and recorded with David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, Low, and Redman among others. He has scored films for an eclectic selection of award-winning directors including Werner Herzog, Wallace Shawn, Finn Taylor, William Wegman, Jed Rothstein, and Marina Zenovich. Sound work and sound environments, include projects with Richard Prince, Julia Scher, Christian Marclay, and Nam Joon Pike.


Kent Long

Kent Long is a film/sound artist, educator, and arts facilitator living in San Francisco. His film work explores the physical experience of moving-image exhibition and the sacred space of the theater, as well as audio/visual facilitation of meditative and trance states, and the physical properties of various media. His current project is a collaboration (as Beige, with Vanessa O’Neill) investigating the aesthetics of energy production as an abstract concept manifested in the physical landscape. These films are presented as multiple projections with live sound performance, and have screened at the New York Film Festival, the Berkeley Art Museum, and Artists’ Television Access.
As an educator, Kent has taught Experimental Cinema at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) since 2004. His pedagogy focuses on the deconstruction of cinematic form and structure and the production of small-scale personal projects on 16mm film, emphasizing a DIY ethos to subvert the moving image as tool of social control and producer of capital. He places strong emphasis on the use of both analogue and digital tools as a means for demonstrating concept and idea. He has also led workshops on live audio/visual performance, dance-for-film/video (with Kunst-Stoff Dance Company), and collaborative video production.
As an arts facilitator, Kent is Technical Director at SFAI, and has acted as Technical Director for the Crossroads Film Festival (SF), Apparent Motion Festival (SF), the Napa Valley Film Festival (Napa, CA). He also provides technical consultation to galleries and individual artists in SF, New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto.


Steffen Alexander Schmidt

Steffen Alexander Schmidt was born in Berlin and teaches Dramaturgy of Opera and History of Theatre and Film Music in the Music and Theater Department of the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). He also runs a master class of Cultural Media Studies and leads a program for scientific and artistic research in the Department of Cultural Analysis. His own research fields are theory of musical rhythm (in new music) and the relationship between music and choreography. As a musicologist, he studied the dance background in the instrumental works of Bernd Alois Zimmermann. As a pianist and composer and musical performer, has worked with several artists in contemporary dance and theatre in Berlin, Germany.



Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos