A team of researchers at University College London explored how actors suppress their sense of self as they take on new characters. The study is published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
The researchers analyzed members of the drama group “Flute Theatre”, who rehearsed scenes from Shakespeare’s drama A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
They used brain imaging technologies and the Hunter Heartbeat Method (a series of sensory drama games) to understand how theater training impacts brain activities. Other factors like social interaction and action planning were also examined.
The results revealed that when the actors hear their own names during the performance, the response in the left anterior prefrontal cortex (the brain region associated with the core sense of self and self-awareness) is suppressed.
As they step into character, they suppress their sense of self—swapping it for the characters they are playing.
The lead author, Dwaynica Greaves, elaborated: “The shout of a person’s own name is a powerful and compelling sound which normally makes the subject turn their head. It also engages the prefrontal cortex of the brain. However, our findings suggest that actors may learn to suppress their sense of self as they train in the theater and take on a different character.”
To Know More You May Refer To
Greaves, D. A., Pinti, P., Din, S., Hickson, R., Diao, M., Lange, C., Khurana, P., Hunter, K., Tachtsidis, I., & Hamilton, A. F. de C. (2022). Exploring Theater Neuroscience: Using Wearable Functional Near-infrared Spectroscopy to Measure the Sense of Self and Interpersonal Coordination in Professional Actors. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_01912