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Illusion Chasers

Illusion Chasers

Illusions, Delusions, and Everyday Deceptions
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    We are brain researchers who study the brain using illusions and magic—where reality is misaligned to how we see, think and feel – in addition to well-established neuroscience methods. Twitter: @SMartinezConde & @Stephen_Macknik. Web: Follow on Twitter @illusionchasers.
  • Blind Justice: Biasing Moral Choices With Eye Tracking

    From Wikimedia Commons

    Scientists have set out to demonstrate a causal relationship–not merely a correlation–between gaze duration and moral decision making.

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    Brain Awareness Week in NYC

    braiNY SFN

    This week is Brain Awareness Week 2015! A number of great events are taking place around the world to promote public education of the brain and to support research in neurological and psychiatric diseases. Here in New York City there are dozens of events.

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    The Unforeseen Joys of Encapsulating The Present

    A treasure trove of the mundane  -- Image from Wikimedia Commons

    A recent study shows that underestimating the value of current experiences leads people to make time-inconsistent choices. We fail to document the present, only to wish we had done it, in the future. At the core of this contradiction is the illusion of self-immutability. We are notoriously bad at predicting how we will feel in the future, and we make the mistake of using our current mental state as a heuristic to make projections about our future feelings. Fundamentally, we do not believe that our future selves will be any different from our current selves, despite our whole life histories screaming to the contrary.

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    Call for Illusion Submissions: The World’s 11th Annual Best Illusion of the Year Contest


    We are happy to announce the 11th edition of world’s Best Illusion of the Year Contest!! Submissions are now welcome!

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    Why Julianne Moore and Taylor Swift See That Dress Differently

    RBG Wired image

    I don’t think that the reason people see the dress differently from each other is an interesting brain process. Rather, it is a mundane differences in how people have viewed the image on their electronic display screens (phones, tablets, laptops, etc). So now we know that Taylor Swift and Ellen Degeneres set their phone screens to different brightness levels than Justin Bieber and Julianne Moore. You’re welcome.

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    Why Romantic Illusions Are a Good Thing


    Scientists believe that idealizing one’s partner can work as a self-fulfilling prophecy, where illusion eventually becomes reality. That is to say, people can help to create the partners they wish they had, by exaggerating their virtues and minimizing their faults in their own minds. In such cases, love is not blind but prophetic.

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    Obsession at the Rubin Museum


    The brain region underlying motivation and pleasure are directly interconnected in a loop that we neurophysiologists refer to as a circuit. Whereas activation of this circuit can feel good in normal function, certain drugs, or diseases (like obsessive compulsive disorder; OCD) leave you wanting for more. Much much more.

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    The Neuroscience of Lucid Dreams

    Dreaming of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. (Wikimedia Commons)

    Lucid dreams are perhaps the most bizarre perceptual experience one can have. You are asleep and dreaming, but suddenly you realize that it’s all just a dream. At that point, you can choose to wake up or you can continue to dream on, with one important advantage. You’re now aware that the world around you is completely made up by your brain.

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    A New Reverspective


    One of the very strange effects of reverse perspective is that the images seem to follow you as you pass by them. As if, while you are observing them, the pictures are watching you back. John Kubie of SUNY Downstate Medical Center realized that, in the case of the Hollow Mask illusion, this must have to do with how viewers track the perspective of the nose of the nose with respect to the rest of the face.

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    Out of Mind, Out of Sight: Suppressed Unwanted Memories Are Harder to See


    I realized that I had somehow managed to forget a horrible account of my grandmother’s deathbed. And I immediately wished that I could forget it for a second time. But I knew that the memory was now there to stay. I was wrong.

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