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Magic and science: Together again at last

By Eric R. Olson | October 28, 2010 |  Comments7
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Not since the ancient days of alchemy have science and magic had such a harmonious relationship. Of course, I’m speaking specifically about neuroscience and the art of illusion—not the fictional conjuring of the Harry Potter variety.

“Most of the cognitive illusions out there have been created by magicians. So we can really benefit a lot by using their insights and learning their techniques to accelerate discovery in cognitive neuroscience,” says Susana Martinez-Conde, a neuroscientist with the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.

Martinez-Conde, along with her husband and fellow scientist Stephen Macknik are the subject of our recent video on the neuroscience of magic (see below). Joined by master pickpocket Apollo Robbins (who is not really a criminal, of course; he calls himself a “gentleman thief”), the trio gives us a new perspective on how the brain works as we watch the tricks and manipulations of the magician.

An article from Macknik and Martinez-Conde on the same topic appears in the November/December issue of Scientific American Mind.

Go to really interesting video linked on preceding line.