One of the things I love is neuroscience. I will never have the ability to be a neuroscientist, but I just love it. And one of the things I love most is neuroscience of the arts.
Today's post by The Frontal Cortex (written by the incomparable Jonah Lehrer, frequent Radiolab contributor) tackles what we mean when we say we're "lost in a movie," or "suspension of disbelief."
Basically, according to Lehrer and the studies he cites, this is an observable mental phenomenon. Your brain suppresses certain reflexive (self-aware) processes to focus on processes it considers involved in understanding the story -- visual, sonic, and touch understanding.
Brecht would be furious. This is exactly what he was talking about!
Oh, and the post uses Avatar as the jumping off point, saying that the hollowness of the spectacle is part of what your brain is looking for when it wants to zone out to a movie.