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Illusion Chasers

Illusion Chasers

Illusions, Delusions, and Everyday Deceptions

  • The Neural Seat of the Thatcher Face Illusion

    The Neural Seat of the Thatcher Face Illusion

    By Susana Martinez-Conde | July 24, 2015 |

    The  Thatcher illusion , discovered 35 years ago by vision scientist Peter Thompson of the University of York in the UK, was essential to current knowledge of face perception. Scientists already knew that faces were difficult to recognize upside down, but the Thatcher illusion went further to demonstrate that the brain does not merely process and store representations of whole faces, but it recognizes isolated facial features such as the mouth and eyes.  The top and bottom rows of Thatcher images are identical but flipped vertically. […]

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  • Convicts with Untrustworthy, Aggressive Faces more Likely to Get Death Penalty

    Convicts with Untrustworthy, Aggressive Faces more Likely to Get Death Penalty

    By Stephen L. Macknik | July 21, 2015 |

    Illusory perception pervades every aspect of life, including, unfortunately, courts of law, where decisions are meant to be blind and unbiased. Studies of bias in legal decisions have begun to reveal the alarming inability of jurists to judge fairly when influenced by certain uncontrolled, extraneous conditions. […]

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  • The Long-Lasting Effects of Nazi Indoctrination

    The Long-Lasting Effects of Nazi Indoctrination

    By Susana Martinez-Conde | July 12, 2015 |

    Is it possible to change public opinions, attitudes, and beliefs, through schooling, advertisement, or any other means? A study published two weeks ago in PNAS shows that Nazi indoctrination of antisemitic attitudes in Germany was extremely effective. […]

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  • Expanding Illusory Perception to Microbes in the Gut

    Expanding Illusory Perception to Microbes in the Gut

    By Stephen L. Macknik | July 2, 2015 |

    What does it mean for something to be visible? Light hits the retina and you see it, right? Well, no, actually. Any number of illusory effects can result in failed detection of an otherwise visible retinal image. That image might also look different from reality. […]

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  • What Makes Magic Funny?

    What Makes Magic Funny?

    By Susana Martinez-Conde | June 20, 2015 |

    Many magicians use humor in their shows, both for the entertaining value and as a misdirection tool. The magic of the Spanish master Juan Tamariz is a great example of the latter. But magic audiences not only laugh at the magician’s jokes, but also at the magical effects themselves: the reading of a spectator’s mind, the disappearance of a coin into thin air, the transmutation of the ace of spades into the queen of hearts, all provoke hilarity.  Magicians are happy to accept the giggles, but are also puzzled by them. […]

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  • The Science Ball Where Everybody Wore the Same Dress

    The Science Ball Where Everybody Wore the Same Dress

    By Stephen L. Macknik | June 14, 2015 |

    Our new column article (with co-author Bevil Conway, of Wellesley College & MIT)—on the topic of The Dress—came out on newsstands in Scientific American: Mind this week. In celebration of our new article, we thought we’d tell you about how the world’s largest vision sciences conference recently celebrated The Dress: When vision scientists dress up, they really go out of their mind (and yours)! […]

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  • 2015 Illusion Champions Announced--The People Have Spoken!!

    2015 Illusion Champions Announced--The People Have Spoken!!

    By Susana Martinez-Conde | June 13, 2015 |

    Congratulations to the winners of the 11 th annual Best Illusion of the Year Contest , hosted by the Neural Correlate Society ! This week, online voters around the world chose the best illusions of the year! First Place and an award of $3,000 USD went to “ Splitting Colors ,” a color perception illusion by Mark Vergeer from KU Leuven, Belgium. […]

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  • VOTE NOW for the Best Illusion of the Year--Until Friday, 7 P.M. Only!

    VOTE NOW for the Best Illusion of the Year--Until Friday, 7 P.M. Only!

    By Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik | June 11, 2015 |

    Worldwide voting is now open to choose the Best Illusion of the Year, for 24 hours only, until 7 P. M. EST, June 12 . Go to the Best Illusion of the Year Contest website and choose your favorite illusion from the Top 10 finalists!   Anybody with an internet connection (that means YOU!) can vote to pick the Top 3 Winners from the current Top 10 List. […]

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  • Countdown to the World's 11th Annual Best Illusion of the Year Contest!

    Countdown to the World's 11th Annual Best Illusion of the Year Contest!

    By Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik | June 7, 2015 |

    This Thursday and Friday is the launch of this year's Best Illusion of the Year Contest , hosted by the Neural Correlate Society , is now an annual online event, in which anybody with an internet connection (that means YOU!) can vote to pick the Top 3 Winners from the current Top 10 List. […]

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  • Illusions in the Formerly Blind

    Illusions in the Formerly Blind

    By Susana Martinez-Conde | May 24, 2015 |

    Are illusions (the phenomena where subjective perception differs from objective reality) the exception or the rule in everyday vision? Do they represent visual processing errors or provide us with an evolutionary advantage? Are such misperceptions innate or something we learn? […]

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