Artistic works influence our minds and nervous systems, scholar reveals

Research by French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne de Boulogne in the 19th century influenced entertainers who used new information about brain sciences to manipulate their audiences. Here, de Boulogne demonstrates the mechanics of facial expression. Credit: Wikipedia No two disciplines could seem further apart than theater and science, but, as it turns out, they’re intimate bedfellows. As Stanford professor Matthew W. Smith has discovered, modern theater – and, by extension, film and television – basically owe their life to the scientific study of the nervous system. An associate professor of German studies and of theater and performance studies at Stanford, Smith’s latest research shows how theatrical works converged with scientific research more than 100 years ago. In his forthcoming book, “Theatres of Sensation: 19th Century Neuroscience and the Birth of the…


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