Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde, the founders of the exciting new discipline of neuromagic, have convinced some of the world’s greatest magicians to allow scientists to study their techniques for tricking the brain. This book is the result of the authors’ yearlong, world-wide exploration of magic and how its principles apply to our behavior. Magic tricks fool us because humans have hardwired processes of attention and awareness that are hackable—a good magician uses your mind’s own intrinsic properties against you in a form of mental jujitsu.
Now magic can reveal how our brains work in everyday situations. For instance, if you’ve ever bought an expensive item you’d sworn you’d never buy, the salesperson was probably a master at creating the “illusion of choice,” a core technique of magic. The implications of neuromagic go beyond illuminating our behavior; early research points to new approaches for everything from the diagnosis of autism to marketing techniques and education. Sleights of Mind makes neuroscience fun and accessible by unveiling the key connections between magic and the mind.
About the Authors
Stephen and Susana are laboratory directors at the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) in Phoenix, Arizona, where they study various aspects of visual, sensory and cognitive neuroscience.
They are members of the Academy of Magical Arts (aka The Magic Castle in Hollywood), the Magic Circle (UK), the Society of American Magicians, and the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
Their research and outreach activities have been written up in hundreds of print media stories including many that have appeared in Scientific American, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, USA Today, ScienceNews, Der Spiegel, The Scientist, New Scientist and Wired magazine.
Television and radio appearances include CBS Sunday Morning, The Discovery Channel, Catalyst (Australia), Redes (Spain), Horizon (KAET – PBS), and National Publilc Radio, in addition to dozens of radio interviews all over Europe.
Both are columnists for ScientificAmerican.com. Their shared column on the neuroscience of illusions gets hundreds of thousands of hits every month. One of these contributions is the most downloaded article in sciam.com history. SciAm recently published a special issue of Scientific American: MIND (summer of 2010) dedicated completely to the authors previous and ongoing contributions on illusion.
Stephen and Susana are founding board members of the Neural Correlate Society, and Susana serves as its Executive Chair. NCS hosts the annual “Best Illusion of the Year Contest.” The contest’s website maintains an archive of visual illusions and their explanations for a broad audience, and receives over three million hits per year. They both serve on the board of advisors for Scientific American: Mind and in addition to their column have published several feature articles in Scientific American (circulation > 1,000,000 readers) and several of its family of journals. Their academic publication credits include contributions to Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and they have each authored over 50 academic publications.
They together organized both the 28th annual meeting of the European Conference on Visual Perception (which Susana chaired) and they co-chaired the 11th annual conference of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC).