This video originally appeared on Aeon and has been reprinted here with permission.
Before the emergence and rapid proliferation of film editing in the early 20th century, humans had never seen anything quite like film cuts: quick flashes of images as people, objects, and entire settings change in an instant. But rather than reacting with confusion, early filmgoers lined up to spend their money at the cinema, turning film—and eventually its close cousin, television—into the century’s defining media. It would seem that our evolutionary history did very little to prepare us for film cuts, so why don’t our brains explode when we watch movies?
Adapted from an Aeon essay by psychologist and brain scientist Jeffrey M. Zacks, the Aeon Video original above explores why our visual experience has much more in common with film editing than it appears to at first glance.