The Impact of Continuity Editing in Narrative Film on Event Segmentation
Article first published online: 4 OCT 2011
Copyright © 2011 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Volume 35, Issue 8, pages 1489–1517, November/December 2011
How to Cite
Magliano, J. P. and Zacks, J. M. (2011), The Impact of Continuity Editing in Narrative Film on Event Segmentation. Cognitive Science, 35: 1489–1517. doi: 10.1111/j.1551-6709.2011.01202.x
- Issue published online: 2 NOV 2011
- Article first published online: 4 OCT 2011
- Received 13 May 2010; received in revised form 9 November 2010; accepted 11 March 2011
- Film comprehension;
- Event comprehension;
- Event segmentation;
- Situation models;
- Mental models;
Filmmakers use continuity editing to engender a sense of situational continuity or discontinuity at editing boundaries. The goal of this study was to assess the impact of continuity editing on how people perceive the structure of events in a narrative film and to identify brain networks that are associated with the processing of different types of continuity editing boundaries. Participants viewed a commercially produced film and segmented it into meaningful events, while brain activity was recorded with functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We identified three degrees of continuity that can occur at editing locations: edits that are continuous in space, time, and action; edits that are discontinuous in space or time but continuous in action; and edits that are discontinuous in action as well as space or time. Discontinuities in action had the biggest impact on behavioral event segmentation, and discontinuities in space and time had minor effects. Edits were associated with large transient increases in early visual areas. Spatial-temporal changes and action changes produced strikingly different patterns of transient change, and they provided evidence that specialized mechanisms in higher order perceptual processing regions are engaged to maintain continuity of action in the face of spatiotemporal discontinuities. These results suggest that commercial film editing is shaped to support the comprehension of meaningful events that bridge breaks in low-level visual continuity, and even breaks in continuity of spatial and temporal location.