Alfred Hitchcock, fMRI and how our brains change as we age

A television classic is being rerun for a new audience: participants in a study using functional MRI to evaluate how older adults respond to stimuli.

“Bang! You’re Dead” is a 1961 episode of the show Alfred Hitchcock Presents noted for its tense premise—a young boy unknowingly switches his toy gun for a real revolver while his parents frantically search for him before he pulls the trigger—and for being the last episode of Hitchcock’s television series that the iconic filmmaker directed himself.

Now, scientists at the University of Cambridge are showing the episode to a group of patients while using fMRI to measure brain activity.

Results, published in Neurobiology of Aging, show that older adults respond to more diverse stimuli and can understand and interpret everyday events in different ways than younger people. At the same time, older subjects tended to be more easily distracted than younger adults.

For more about what imaging revealed about subjects’ brains, click the link below: