Pixar’s new animated film Inside Out has received rave reviews since its release last month, and rightly so. Inside Out is set in the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley and embraces five miniature beings that represent her emotions: joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust. The animated film not only explores the power of these emotions, but also hits on some key concepts in neuroscience. Throughout Riley’s day, her emotions are produced by specific events that transform into little orbs and get stored inside her brain, colored accordingly: yellow for joy, blue for sadness, red for anger, purple for fear and green for disgust.
After Riley suddenly moves with her family from Minnesota to San Francisco, her emotions begin quarreling with each other on who gets to “drive” her brain. For a pre-teen undergoing turmoil, the emotions really are in control because the brain isn’t fully developed yet. Research shows the white matter that links activity in the brain doesn’t fully connect until a person is in their late 20s.
The movie also explores the importance of memories, and how they shape Riley’s outlook on life. Neuroscientists, philosophers and psychologists agree that our memories play a vital role in how we view ourselves.
There are also parts of the brain the movie calls “personality islands,” which occupy a large amount of territory. These include friends, family, hobbies, honesty, and even goofiness. Although there are no such “islands” in the human brain, what the movie gets right is that traits of our personality are scattered throughout the cortex and contribute to our mindfulness.
It also dives into the arenas of long-term memory, the use-it-or-lose-it mentality, and the intricate connection between sadness and joy. However, this is just scratching the surface of Inside Out. This hilarious and heartwarming film animation is for all ages. There is so much to be learned that will make you more aware of how you and others operate from the inside out.