Ask Me Anything - The Neuroscience of Magic Illusions

Live Event – ‘Ask Me Anything’ session with Drs. Macknik and Martinez-Conde, and Mr. Hector Rieiro

Who & What: Ask Drs. Macknik and Martinez-Conde and Mr. Rieiro about visual neuroscience, magic illusions, or anything else relevance to their field!

When: Tuesday, December 17, 8am-10am PST

Where: Visit https://www.peerj.com/ask/VisualNeuroscience


We are pleased to announce that Tuesday, December 17, from 8 am – 10 am PST (4 pm – 6 pm UK time), we will be holding our second ‘Ask Me Anything’ live session, with Drs. Macknik and Martinez-Conde and Mr. Rieiro.

In a recent study, Drs. Macknik and Martinez-Conde and Mr. Rieiro reported on a magic trick filmed in magician duo Penn & Teller’s theater in Las Vegas, to illuminate the neuroscience of illusion. “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. The 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.

In this study, 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! The authors tracked when and where observers looked during some of Teller’s signature moves. By quantifying how well observers tracked the loading and unloading of balls with and without transparent cups, they determined that some aspects of the illusion were even more powerful at controlling attention than those originally predicted by Teller.

Their results advance our understanding of how observers can be misdirected and will aid magicians as they work to improve their art.

If you want to learn how magic tricks hack your neural wiring, or if you are just curious about visual neuroscience in general, visit https://www.peerj.com/ask/VisualNeuroscience, leave your questions at any time - before, during, and after the event - and get all your questions answered by three world-experts in this field!

Drs. Macknik and Martinez-Conde and Mr. Rieiro will be online and interacting on Tuesday, December 17, 8am-10am PST.

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