The Loh Down On Science

Muggle Magic

Was Houdini a neuroscientist?
       
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
 
Introducing neuromagic--a new field of neuroscience. You won't find it in your Harry Potter books, though. It’s a Muggle study!       

Neuromagic studies how our brains process illusion. Illusion, as in the difference between what we think is going on and what's really going on.

Magicians exploit that difference. You know "Mysterio" put the coin in your hand before you closed it tightly … But when you opened it, the coin was gone and he appeared to pull it out of your ear. What really happened?

Well, our brains can't pay attention to multiple things. So Mysterio distracted you with chatter. That's why you didn't notice him taking the coin out of your hand right after pressing it into your palm.

And because our neurons don't react instantly, they retain the feeling of pressure even after the coin is gone.
 
Hey, presto! Neuromagic! Conjuring new theories about how the brain functions.
 
Sawing a blonde in half, though. Never a good idea.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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