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Study examines how the brain reacts to UHD vs. HD

30 Dec 2015 | Rasmus Larsen |

Samsung and Mindlab International have completed a neuropsychological study of how the brain reacts to Full HD versus UHD, which has four times more pixels. Samsung says that UHD increased “approach motivation, visual processing and beta power” in subjects.

A study in UHD vs. HD

For years, the industry has talked about how UHD - or 4K - is more “immersive”. Samsung and the Mindlab laboratory at the Sussex Innovation Centre in Brighton have now carried out a study with 24 participants aged 18 to 65.

- “Ultra High Definition TV is a quantum leap in terms of viewing experience – this has been proved by the research we carried out for Samsung. It’s incredible how advancements in technology can create these significant physiological responses and is changing the way we experience content and entertainment.”, says neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis, Chairman of Mindlab International.

During the study, electrodes were placed on the viewers’ heads to measure brain activity. Their reactions were measured with EEG (electroencephalography), EDA (Electrodermal activity) and heart rate monitors. They were shown HD and UHD content from a European football match and from streaming service Netflix (Sense8 and Chef’s table). Netflix is already streaming in 4K quality but at a lower bitrate than the coming UHD Blu-ray discs.

HD vs. UHD study

The measurements show increased brain responses to UHD content.

- "The results proved overwhelmingly that UHD TV was more ‘immersive’ than Full HD TV due to a combination of increased approach motivation (a measure associated with being attracted towards something), visual processing and beta power (a measure associated with active thinking or concentration)" Samsung concludes.

The company adds that “participants experienced 62 percent higher levels of visual processing when watching football on UHD TV, meaning that the brain is using more of its capacity to process visual information” and “during the study, subjects felt 25 percent more ‘in the moment’ when watching something for the first time on the Samsung SUHD TV.”

It is unclear whether the content was presented “only” in 4K resolution or if other picture improvements such as a wider color gamut were included. However, Netflix’s content is only available in 4K (HDR coming next year) so for Netflix’s content that can be ruled out.

Results from the study

Participants were significantly more drawn towards content on UHD screens compared to Full HD screens (20 percent difference) – creating a positive emotional reaction
When watching clips for the second or third time, people watching on UHD screens were more drawn to them than those watching them on HD screens (29 percent difference)
During the study, subjects felt 25 percent more ‘in the moment’ when watching something for the first time on the Samsung SUHD TV.

About the study

The study was carried out at Mindlab’s lab in Sussex Innovation Centre in Brighton between the October 26 and 28 2015. 24 participants aged 18 to 65 (average: 36) were included. All participants had watched TV at least twice over the last 30 days. 12 were men and 12 were women. Participants were paid for their time.

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