1 Answer
0
Accepted answer

Oh, well, I'm fooled just as everyone. The interesting thing about magic and illusions as a field of study is that one can know exactly how an specific trick is made and still be fooled or find it hard to follow. For example, even after running this research project, I find it very hard to follow everything that Penn and Teller do when on stage (see for example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8osRaFTtgHo).

The scientific training helps to build hypothesis and understand what happened after the fact, but the first time you see a trick, you are going to fall no matter what.

waiting for moderation
0

Thanks Hector - it is interesting though, don't you think, that scientists are always held up as being "expert observers" (trained in the art of observing something very carefully) which is even used in court cases as some sort of extra validity to whatever a 'scientist' may observe. When in fact although they may be expert at observing their experiments, that doesnt necessarily help them in this kind of situation.

-
waiting for moderation
0

It is important to differentiate between a scientist expertise and their perception. The mechanisms that control visual attention are the same in the brain of a scientist than in any other person. The expertise of a cognitive scientist may lie in the interpretation and understanding of attention and behavior, but those same circuits that she is studying are at play in her own brain, and her expertise can only help her, potentially, in interpreting how she has been fooled by the trick.

Kind of related, there's been a recently published study in which researchers found that trained radiologists fail like anyone in noticing a gorilla overimposed in radiological images when they are trying to look for something else (Drew, Vo and Wolfe, Psychological Science, 2013).

-
waiting for moderation

Ask me anything journal club

- On The Neuroscience of Illusion

Who: Dr. Stephen Macknik, Director of the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology at Barrow Neurological Institute, Dr. Susana Martinez-Conde, Director of the Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience, and Mr. Hector Rieiro, graduate student at the Barrow Neurological Institute.

What: Drs. Macknik and Martinez-Conde and Mr. Rieiro 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.

Drs. Macknik and Martinez-Conde and Mr. Rieiro will be answering your questions live from 8am-10am PST, regarding their article, magic illusions, or any other topic of relevance to visual neuroscience.

When: December 17, 2013 08:00 am PST

Where: Ask me anything - On The Neuroscience of Illusion