(Pocket-lint) - Have you ever wished you were slightly smarter? A little more intelligent? Well if you watch a few more 3D films, you might find that the genie grants that wish. Yes, it's apparently that easy. No more books, no more studying, just spend the rest of your spare time watching 3D movies.

Don't believe us? We were skeptical at first too but after a neurological experiment suggested watching 3D films exercises the brain and can help improve IQ and brain power, we thought it would be rude not to try it out for ourselves. So we headed to Vue cinema in Piccadilly and here is what we discovered.

The experiment

We had to do a simple IQ test before watching any 2D or 3D films. We say simple, but at 9am, trying to remember the correct sequence of six digits that individually flashed up our screen was far from easy. The sections of the cognitive test included six sections, all one-minute long, to measure short-term cognitive performance in a range of areas including memory, processing and attention.

Tasks included pressing the space bar for every "O" that appeared on the screen, and ignoring every "Q", typing as many words beginning with S that we could think of, and clicking on every number eight we could find in a grid full of numbers. We also had to do some decoding using a key and answer some grammatical reasoning questions.


Following the test, a person in a white lab coat fitted an Emotiv EPOC+ 14 channel wet-sensor electroencephalogram to our head. Luckily our hair didn't need shaving off for the points to engage and each one appeared on a diagram on the lab technician's laptop, with green indicating they were successfully engaged.

All wired up, we were shipped into the cinema screen and not an institution to watch a 10-minute clip of Big Hero 6 in 2D, while the lab technician analysed our brain as we watched. Following the clip, we watched the same clip in 3D.

How our brain responded

The video below shows how how brain reacted and responded to watching 2D content, followed by 3D content.

The results

After the clips, we did the IQ test again. We had a 16 per cent mean increase across all tasks overall, but interestingly our reaction time decreased while all the other participants increased. We were 28.5 milliseconds slower at pressing the space bar when an "O" appeared, resulting in a 7 per cent change, but we correctly recalled one more full number in the digit span task, resulting in a change of 13 per cent.

We came up with two more unique words in the verbal fluency test, which was a 29 per cent increase, and we found three more numbers in the digit cancellation task, resulting in a 10 per cent increase.


In terms symbol-digit matching task where we had to do the decoding, we found four more symbols, which meant a 15 per cent increase, while we answered two more grammatical reasoning questions correct for a 20 per cent increase.

The majority of results therefore suggest watching the 10-minute clip of the 3D film did in fact increase our brain power. We could say we were more awake, or better even prepared the second time and that contributed to the increase rather than the 3D film alone, but in theory it would seem the 3D film at least woke the majority of our brain up, bar the reaction element.

The full experiment

The experiment we took part in was a mini version of one that had previously been performed on 107 participants over two days, conducted by neuroscientist Patrick Fagan, as associate lecturer at Goldsmiths, and Professor Brendan Walker of Thrill Laboratory.

The first day the participants watched 30 minutes of Disney's Big Hero 6 in 2D and the second day they watched the same clip in 3D. They had the same sensor equipment attached to their heads and they took part in the same IQ tests. There were 86 good quality EEG recordings and completed surveys at the end of the experiment.


The results included a 7.31 per cent increase in how immersed the audience were by 3D than 2D, while participants saw a 23 per cent increase in cognitive processing and a 11 per cent increase in reaction times. We must be a special case then.

The improvement in reaction times was said to be almost five times higher as a result of watching 3D footage rather than 2D footage and performance of processing tasks was more than twice as high with 3D.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle.
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