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Barrow researchers use magic for discoveries
Date:5/22/2012

(Phoenix, AZ May 22, 2012) -- Researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center have unveiled how and why the public perceives some magic tricks in recent studies that could have real-world implications in military tactics, marketing and sports.

Susana Martinez-Conde, PhD, of Barrow's Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience, and Stephen Macknik, PhD, of Barrow's Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology are well known for their research into magic and illusions. Their most recent original research projects, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, offer additional insight into perception and cognition.

One of the studies was initiated by professional magician Apollo Robbins, who believed that audience members directed their attention differently depending on the type of hand motion used. Robbins believed that if he moved his hand in a straight line while performing a trick the audience would focus on the beginning and end points of the motion, but not in between. In contrast, he believed if he moved his hand in a curved motion the audience would follow his hand's trajectory from beginning to end.

By studying the eye movements of individuals as they watched Robbins perform, Barrow researchers confirmed Robbins' theory. Perhaps more importantly, they also found that the different types of hand motion triggered two different types of eye movement. The researchers discovered that curved motion engaged smooth pursuit eye movements (in which the eye follows a moving object smoothly), whereas straight motion led to saccadic eye movements (in which the eye jumps from one point of interest to another).

"Not only is this discovery important for magicians, but the knowledge that curved motion attracts attention differently from straight motion could have wide-reaching implications for example, in predator-prey evasion techniques in the natural world, military tactics, sports strategies and marketin
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Contact: Lynne Reaves
lynne.reaves@dignityhealth.org
602-406-4734
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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