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  • Should haunted houses ‘send in the clowns’ this Halloween?

    The Boston Globe - 10/20/2016

    This is the 12th year that Barrett, a neuroscientist who heads the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory at Northeastern University and Massachusetts General Hospital, has run the haunted house out of her home. The one-night charity event, which will take place on Oct. 28 this year, raises thousands of dollars for the Greater Boston Food Bank.

    Barrett’s daughter, Sophia, had the initial idea for the haunted house when she was 5 years old. To make the haunted house scarier without resorting to gore, the family has used Barrett’s research about how the brain generates emotions..

    “We terrify people, to be perfectly honest,” said Barrett’s husband, Dan. “People’s eyes can be very effective in scaring, particularly if a visitor is not sure if the eyes belong to a prop or live person. We play with what’s alive and what’s not, rather than using cheap thrills.”

    The house has three “scare” levels — no scares, medium scares, and full scares — to cater to every type of guest.

    At the first level, actors stand completely still and will unmask at the guests’ request. At the next level, actors will lightly brush against visitors and move about in a creepy manner. And, in the most extreme version, actors leap out unexpectedly and grab guests by the arm. But no matter the scare level, there is one consistent theme inside.

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