For viewers, it's quintessential, over-the-top Hollywood action. For scientists, it's a window into the human brain. At a recent event here hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists got together with filmmakers to discuss what both groups have learned?the scientists through painstaking experiments and analysis, the filmmakers by intuition and experience?about the mechanisms of attention and perception.
In the Iron Man 2 sequence, for example, people are remarkably consistent in where they direct their gaze. Tim Smith, a vision scientist at the University of London, presented eye tracking data collected from 75 people as they watched the clip on a flatscreen.