Inside Out: an emotional review done by reading minds

Home BCInema Inside Out: an emotional review done by reading minds

Inside Out is a 2015 animation movie, produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, that tells the story of a young girl named Riley from the day of her birth until she was 12.

As a matter of fact, Riley is not the main character of the film: the plot revolves around her five basic emotions Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger, represented as funny colored characters, that can influence the events of the young girl’s life from a “headquarter” located into her brain.

© Disney Pixar – Inside Out characters Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear and Sadness with their control board.

The storyline focuses on the generation of memories, depicted as bright spheres, and emotions related to them, that give to each sphere a color corresponding to that of the character that created it: red for anger, blue for sadness and so on.

The most important structures of Riley’s mind are the Islands of Core Values (like the Family Island), which are floating islands that contain the most profound memories she collected during her lifetime and strongly influence her personality and behavior.

The movie shows what happens in Riley’s mind after she moves to a new city, how she risks losing her Islands of Core Values and how she finds them again after a process of personal growth, always seen from the inside.

© Disney Pixar – The Islands of Core Values.

So what do BCIs have to do with all this? Inside Out had been the first movie ever whose review was made by reading the mind of the critics, an amazing neuromarketing test made by Bitbrain Technologies, a Spanish company located in Zaragoza.


Neuromarketing is the analysis of behaviors and preferences of consumers, made by applying the principles of neuroscience and medical technologies in order to look directly at how the brain reacts to products, ads, videos, etc.

The experiment was requested by Disney itself that gave Bitbrain a very hard task: they wanted to know for every scene what were the actual emotions felt by the audience and how they evolved during the projection.

In order to do that three experts of parents-children relationship, with a great influence on social media, were recruited to watch a preview of the movie: Luis Muiño, psychologist and communicator, Susana García, blogger, and Rush Smith, youtuber.

During the experiment they were wearing a Diadem, a 12-channel EEG with dry electrodes made by Bitbrain that recorded the brain signals from the portions of the cortex related to emotions and cognitive processes like attention and memory. The participants were also wearing a ring that measured their heart activity and the galvanic response of the skin.

© Disney España – Emotions mapped during the projection of the movie.

The main difficulty that Bitbrain had to face according to María López, co-founder and CEO, was the fact that their systems were made to measure continuous emotions, so percentages of positive emotions versus negative ones. In the case of Inside Out the emotions were five, so they had to adapt the algorithms.

For more projects involving Bitbrain see Nissan presents Brain-to-Vehicle: drive your car with brain waves

The results obtained were very different: for Rush the percentage of joy was above 90%, about 9% of sadness and 0,3% of rage; for Susana the sadness overcame the 30% (she cried a lot by her own admission) and she also had a moment of rage, but in a different moment compared to Rush.

The experiment also showed a better capacity of the woman to feel empathy with respect to her two male colleagues in which there had been a lower activation of Mirror Neurons.

The trial showed that in all three cases happiness and sadness went hand in hand during the movie, even if with different percentages. This conclusion matches with the moral of the film: all the emotions are necessary, even those that we consider negative like rage or sadness, and maybe this is exactly the secret sauce behind the success of this beautiful movie.


Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news about Brain-Computer Interfaces, subscribe!

· By entering your e-mail address and confirming the following steps, you will accept our privacy conditions.
· Check you spam folder if you don't see the confirmation mail.
Stefano Stravato
I have always been passionate about technology, especially when it deals with people's health and well-being. This is why I got a Master Degree in Biomedical Engineering and I Co-Founded Vibre, a startup that is disrupting the field of Brain-Computer Interfaces, aiming to create a Mind-Driven World. I firmly believe that Neural Interfaces can improve people's lives, especially those of people with particular needs, for this reason, I spend everyday all my energies to transform our vision into reality.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here