[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
Scary music plays a key role in ramping up the fear factor in movies. The soundtrack has such an effect that I put my hands over my ears during the most frightening moments. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University report that scary music is even scarier if you shut your eyes.
In research published in the Public Library of Science ONE, they say this effect may lead to new ways to treat neurological diseases. Volunteers listened to Hitchcock-style music twice: once eyes open and once eyes shut. With eyes closed, their amygdalas lit up. That’s the region of our brains that processes emotions. Volunteers said they also felt the emotional effects of the music much more in the dark.
Scientists say shutting our eyes might synch up different brain activities, allowing our brains to “better integrate the highs and lows of the emotional experience.” The researchers hope that these findings could lead to music-based therapies for conditions like depression and schizophrenia.
As for me, during some of those scary movie scenes, music does sneak through my hands into my ears—good thing I leave my eyes open.