A Neuropsychologist's Take on Inside Out--spoilers Below!
They got so much right!
- •All of the new memories that Riley forms are shown as little spheres that come into headquarters and then are routed into long-term storage.
- •This is exactly how our brain works. New memories are formed in a part of the brain called the hippocampus and are then shuttled into long term storage in the cortex
- •When Riley goes to sleep, all of her memories from the day are sent out for long-term storage. We now know sleep is essential for the consolidation of memory into long-term storage. That is why missing sleep is so detrimental to learning
- •The emotion characters live in headquarters which must be equivalent to the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system is the emotional center of the brain.What is super interesting is that when one of the emotion characters touches a memory, it gets tainted with that emotion. Remember how Joy keeps stopping Sadness from touching the memory Spheres?? Emotional valence does affect memory profoundly
- •Forgetting and destruction of memories. Memories decay overtime unless they are reinforced or have such strong emotional valence that they are kept.In the movie you could see the little spheres turning gray and then turning into dust. You also had short-term memories being vacuumed up by workers in the storage facility. Short-term memories decay much more rapidly than long-term memories
- •I'm really not too sure about the idea of the core islands of self--for example, family hockey friendship etc. those big islands that ended up going gray and collapsing as Riley got more depressedI think this worked in the movie to make a dramatic point about the loss of self that happens with depression, however it's not really an accurate description of core self. But that is just neuropsych geeky shit I'm probably not relevant to the moviegoing population
- •I really loved the ending of the movie where it was recognized how important Sadness (or what I would think of as healthy grieving) was to a good outcome for Rilley. Not only did she get to express all of her negative feelings, but they were heard and empathized withParental empathy and understanding--not dismissing or minimizing grief is the most essential thing to working through and processing negative emotions and transforming the personality most people are in therapy because they never received that critical empathy and kindness
- •Plus the movie totally made me cry!