Navigation Links
Scientists advance the art of magic with a study of Penn and Teller's 'cups and balls' illusion
Date:2/12/2013

Cognitive brain researchers have studied a magic trick filmed in magician duo Penn & Teller's theater in Las Vegas, to illuminate the neuroscience of illusion. Their results advance our understanding of how observers can be misdirected and will aid magicians as they work to improve their art.

The research team was led by Dr. Stephen Macknik, Director of the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology at Barrow Neurological Institute, in collaboration with fellow Barrow researchers Hector Rieiro and Dr. Susana Martinez-Conde, Director of the Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience. The study, titled "Perceptual elements in Penn and Teller's "Cups and Balls" magic trick" was published today, Feb 12th 2013, as part of the launch of PeerJ, a new peer reviewed open access journal in which all articles are freely available to everyone. "Cups and Balls," a magic illusion in which balls appear and disappear under the cover of cups, is one of the oldest magic tricks in history, with documented descriptions going back to Roman conjurors in 3 B.C. "But we still don't know how it really works in the brain," says Macknik, "because this is the first, long overdue, neuroscientific study of the trick."

The discovery concerns the way magicians manipulate human cognition and perception. The "Cups and Balls" trick has many variations, but the most common one uses three balls and three cups. The magician makes the balls pass through the bottom of cups, jump from cup to cup, disappear from a cup and turn up elsewhere, turn into other objects, and so on. The cups are usually opaque and the balls brightly colored. Penn & Teller's variant is performed with three opaque and then with three transparent cups. "The transparent cups mean that visual information about the loading of the balls is readily available to the brain, yet still the spectators cannot see how the trick is done!" said Martinez-Conde.

Magicians have performed and systematically developed the art and theory of this illusion for thousands of years, but each new generation of conjurers offers new insights and hypotheses about how and why it works for the audience. Here the scientists turned the power of the scientific method to the illusion. The experiments tracked when and where observers looked during video clips portraying specific element of the performance, filmed by a NOVA scienceNOW TV crew. By quantifying how well observers tracked the loading and unloading of balls with and without transparent cups, the scientists determined that some aspects of the illusion were even more powerful at controlling attention than aspects originally predicted by the magician.

The end result is that cognitive scientists now have an improved understanding of how (and by how much) observers can be misdirected. In addition, this knowledge can help magicians further hone their art.


'/>"/>

Contact: Stephen Macknik
macknik@neuralcorrelate.com
602-406-8091
PeerJ
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. CSHL scientists identify a new strategy for interfering with a potent cancer-causing gene
2. Scientists Find 24 New Genes Linked to Nearsightedness
3. NIH scientists discover promising target to block Staphylococcus infection
4. Scientists find key to growth of bad bacteria in inflammatory bowel disease
5. Scientists Explore How Zinc Fights Off Infection
6. Compound developed by scientists protects heart cells during and after attack
7. Scientists discover how chromosomes keep their loose ends loose
8. Meeting: Scientists to explore 60 topical issues related to human health and the environment
9. Scientists debate CDC recommendations during meningitis outbreak
10. Scientists discover protein that allows safe recycling of iron from old red blood cells
11. MU scientists build harness for powerful radiation cancer therapy
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... Those who have experienced traumatic events may suffer from a complex ... as drug or alcohol abuse, as a coping mechanism. To avoid this pain and ... a traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers tend to feel a range of emotions, from ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son James, ... out at his family verbally and physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t control ... use it. He would throw rocks at my other children and say he was going ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, P.A. ... The attorneys chosen by their peers for this recognition are considered among the top ... Shareholders received special honors as members of this year’s Legal Elite Hall of Fame: ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... San Diego, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... up with the American Cancer Society and the Road To Recovery® program to drive ... care to seniors and other adults to ensure the highest quality of life and ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... People across the U.S. are sharpening their ... Award, an essay contest in which patients and their families pay tribute to a ... the 2016 National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference (AEC) this September. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... 2016 Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc (Nasdaq: ... Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended ("HSR"), ... Inc. ("Celator"; Nasdaq: CPXX ) expired effective ... As previously announced on May 31, 2016, ... agreement under which Jazz Pharmaceuticals has commenced a tender ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... 26, 2016 Story Highlights: ... models within the health care industry is causing providers ... , Deloitte offers a suite of solutions for ... impacting efficient cost optimization: labor resource analysis, revenue cycle ... facilitate better outcomes and better economics ...
(Date:6/24/2016)...  Collagen Matrix, Inc., ("Collagen Matrix") the driving ... collagen and mineral based medical devices for tissue ... Messer has joined the company as Vice ... growing portfolio of oral surgery, neurosurgery, orthopaedic and ... the Collagen Matrix executive team as an accomplished ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: