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Illusion Chasers

How To Change Your Past

Grandfather_Clock_Face_Waters_building_EXPLORE_4-8-08_2828

“Too late” might be the two most tragic words in English, but what if you could rewind the clock? What if the past was not immutable? Would we regret past bad decisions more or less? Would it affect the way that we feel then about our past choices, and the moral decisions that we may face in the future? New research has found out using virtual reality.

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Illusion Chasers

How Brains Know Where Things Are—Making Space by Jennifer Groh

cover

Groh launches her book with a BIG FAT LIE: she tells us that nine-tenths of our brain power is spent determining where things are. Then she immediately admits that she just made that up, but that she’d dedicate the rest of the book to explaining why she thinks its true. I was hooked! Brilliant, tantalizing, probably correct, but maybe not! I knew right then I would read this book cover-to-cover.

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Illusion Chasers

Art and Science Team Up To Steal Your Attention With Magic

stealing_attention_pic

Artist Ellen Levy teamed up with neuroscientist Michael E. Goldberg, Director of the Mahoney Center for Brain and Behavior at Columbia University in New York, to apply the concept of change blindness to an interactive art installation. The resulting animation, “Stealing Attention”, was recently shown at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery in New York City, as part of the “Sleuthing the Mind” exhibit that Levy curated.

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Illusion Chasers

New Science Channel show HACK MY BRAIN—Featuring Scientific American MIND’s Illusion Chasers!

scichan

Todd Sampson is an advertising exec in Australia. An average Joe, who, like the rest of us, wants to be super human. So he’s enlisting scientists all over the world to hack his brain and make him, smarter, faster, and more creative. In our labs we show him a little bit of neuromagic. Come check it out this Friday!

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Illusion Chasers

The Winners of the 2014 Best Illusion of the Year Contest

dbs

Expanding and contracting circles, mutating colors, and false image matches dominated the 2014 Best Illusion of the Year Contest, held on May 18th in the TradeWinds Island Grand in St. Petersburg, FL. One thousand perceptual scientists joined artists and the general public to determine the TOP THREE illusion masters from a pre-selected group of TOP TEN finalists, chosen by an international committee of judges. Each winner took home a trophy designed by the acclaimed Italian sculptor Guido Moretti: the trophies are visual illusions themselves.

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Illusion Chasers

Transcending Our Origins–Violence, Humanity, and the Future

4713_Origins5onblack_2

Attend the ASU Origins Project Great Debate event, Transcending Our Origins–Violence, Humanity, and the Future, either live or by webcast on April 5th.

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Illusion Chasers

Daniel Suarez’s Influx Is Super Fluxing Bitchin’!

INFLUX_web_sm

I loved the book, and couldn’t—wouldn’t—didn’t—set it down. With Influx, Daniel Suarez becomes the master, and Michael Crichton should be honored by the comparison.

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Illusion Chasers

Illusion of the Week: Legos and M&M’s Bulge Illusion.

Image credit: Mary Coffelt, Briena Heller, and Michael McCamy, Martinez-Conde and Macknik Laboratories, Barrow Neurological Institute

If you’ve ever played with Legos, you know that they’re all about straight lines and 90-degree corners. Not in this version of Akiyoshi Kitaoka’s “Bulge” illusion. The strategically placed purple and white M&Ms distort your perception of the Lego checkerboard, making it bulge out.

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Illusion Chasers

CALL FOR ILLUSION SUBMISSIONS: THE WORLD’S 10TH ANNUAL BEST ILLUSION OF THE YEAR CONTEST

Mac King

We are happy to announce the 10th anniversary edition of world’s Best Illusion of the Year Contest. Submissions are now welcome!

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Illusion Chasers

Ask Me Anything: The Neuroscience of Magic at PeerJ

(c) 2013,  Courtesy of NOVA:scienceNow, WGBH

Tomorrow (Tue 16th Dec at 8 am PST) the journal PeerJ will host a live ‘Ask Me Anything’ session with us, and our collaborator Hector Rieiro (a PhD candidate in the Macknik Lab).

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Observations

Free Will: Is Your Brain the Boss of You? [Video]

Michael Gazzaniga

Philosophers have debated for years whether we deliberately make each of the many decisions we make every day, or if our brain does it for us, on autopilot. Neuroscientists have shown, for example, that neurons in the brain initiate our response to various stimuli milliseconds before we’re even aware that we’re taking such an action. [...]

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Observations

What Is Consciousness? Go to the Video!

Various scholars have tried to explain consciousness in long articles and books, but one neuroscience pioneer has just released an unusual video blog to get the point across. In the sharply filmed and edited production, Joseph LeDoux, a renowned expert on the emotional brain at New York University, interrogates his NYU colleague Ned Block on [...]

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Observations

Neuroscience and Magic: The Science of Stealing a Watch

Apollo Robbins, a.k.a the “Gentleman Thief,” explains his technique of managing attentional spotlight during the Neuromagic 2012conference on the Island of Thought, San Simón, near Vigo, Spain, while demonstrating on neuroscientist Flip Phillips of Skidmore College. Attentional spotlight is the focus of consciousness at any given moment, and it can be directed–or, as in magic, [...]

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Observations

How Neuroscientists and Magicians Are Conjuring Brain Insights

Mariette DiChristina and Apollo Robbins

“I see you have a watch with a buckle.” Standing at my side, Apollo Robbins held my wrist lightly as he turned my hand over and back. I knew exactly what was coming but I fell for it anyway. “Yes,” I said, trying to keep an eye on him, “that looks pretty easy for you [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Will the Robot Uprising Be Squishy?

soft robot octopus

Octopuses offer an extreme engineering challenge: They are almost infinitely flexible, entirely soft-bodied and incredibly intelligent. Are we vertebrate humans ever going to be able to build anything as deformable and complex as a real octopus? Carmel Majidi, of the Soft Machines Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, explored this question in a recent paper in [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Octopuses Gain Consciousness (According to Scientists’ Declaration)

octopus consciousness declaration

Elephants cooperate to solve problems. Chimpanzees teach youngsters to make tools. Even octopuses seem to be able to plan. So should we humans really be surprised that “consciousness” probably does not only exist in us? This privileged state of subjective awareness in fact goes well beyond Homo sapiens, according to the new Cambridge Declaration on [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Take Care of Your Brain—and Your Friendships

Courtesy of Alexms22 via Wikimedia Commons

Fighting back emotion, Tony Dorsett, the former Dallas Cowboys’ running back, told ESPN last fall: “It’s painful, man, for my daughters to say they’re scared of me…it’s painful.” Dorsett said he suffers from memory problems, depression and difficulty controlling his emotions. He said he has even thought about suicide. The likely cause of Dorsett’s distress [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Learn to Live in the Now [Video]

Being mindful means being acutely aware of what is happening now—rather than drifting into the past or musing about the future—without emotionally reacting to these ongoing events. Maintaining a focus on the present is associated with a variety of improvements to physical and mental health. Practicing mindfulness can also enhance key aspects of intellect—in particular, [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

On TV, Ray Kurzweil Tells Me How to Build a Brain

Ray Kurzweil

I recently interviewed author and inventor Ray Kurzweil about his new book, “How to Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed.” The 58-minute segment aired on December 1, 2 and 3 on the C-SPAN2 program “After Words.” The book’s thesis is that it is essentially possible to reverse-engineer the human brain to create [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

When Sleeping Turns Deadly and Other Strange Tales from Scientific American MIND

The July/August issue of Scientific American Mind made its debut online late last week. Here I divulge some of the more surprising and useful lessons from its pages. Dozing Dangerously Sleepwalking is one of the strangest phenomena I have ever witnessed. Despite its name, it doesn’t resemble any other kind of sleep I’ve seen. To [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

8 Ways to Forget Your Troubles

Ad on a London Bus. Courtesy of Annie Wade via Flickr.

People have long tried tricks to aid their memories. One of the most useful of these so-called mnemonic devices, I’ve found, involves associating names with word pictures or with other people you know well. I was just at a party, for example, and met a man who shared a last name with someone I’ve known [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Patients Risk Brain Surgery to Fix Shaky Hands

Peter West makes his living working with explosives, but for a long time he did his job despite a terrifying handicap: tremors. His hands would twitch and shake, his head would bob, his speech would become garbled. Sometimes he could barely pour milk from a pitcher—the milk slopping over the side of the glass. “At [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

An Artist Reveals How He Tricks the Eyes

deli in poughkeepsie

A few years ago, James Gurney, a celebrated artist and author, stood before his easel to paint a deli in Poughkeepsie. Surveying the scene before him, he was immediately overwhelmed with literally millions of details. People strolled by. Insects fluttered overhead. Signs poked out from the store and up from the street. Every tree had [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Goldie Hawn Plunges into Brain Science

Goldie Hawn in 1989 at 61st Academy Awards. Photo by Alan Light via Wikimedia Commons.

ASPEN. When I arrived at the Aspen Meadows Resort for the Second Annual Aspen Brain Forum last Thursday evening, Goldie Hawn was getting out of a vehicle near the entrance. I knew she was about to give the keynote address, but I was startled to practically run into the actress. A grandmother now, Hawn looked [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Forgetting About 9/11

World Trade Centers from below

A decade ago, we lived in an apartment tower in Jersey City overlooking the Hudson River. We had a panoramic view of Manhattan—and of planes flying in and out of the nearby airports. After several years there, I got used to rolling my eyes as my husband pontificated on the make, or approach, of various [...]

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Talking back

The Puzzle of Consciousness: Watch Full Video of World Science Festival Panel

Unraveling the mystery of consciousness remains perhaps the biggest challenge in all neuroscience, so big and amorphous that most brain scientists won’t go near the topic, leaving philosophers to speculate about the a prioris. Even defining what consciousness is quickly devolves into lengthy and often ponderous treatises. The World Science Festival assembled a panel of [...]

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