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Two Neuroscientists and a Magician Show How Tricks Hack Our Brains

Science & the City and Scientific American will host "Mind over Magic" this week.

Published November 12, 2010

Magic tricks work because humans have a hardwired process of attention and awareness that is hackable. At a November 18 public event at the New York Academy of Sciences, vision scientists Stephen L. Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde, authors of Scientific American MIND's November/December cover story and of the new book, Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions, will explain just how magicians distract and fool an audience by surreptitiously manipulating people’s attention, tricking them into focusing on irrelevant objects or occurrences and into making incorrect assumptions about the purpose of an action. World-renowned magician James “The Amazing” Randi will illustrate some of these cognitive tricks.

A Public Event: Mind Over Magic

On Stage:
Susana Martinez-Conde, PhD, Barrow Neurological Institute

Stephen L. Macknik, PhD, Barrow Neurological Institute

James "The Amazing" Randi, James Randi Education Foundation.

Thursday, November 18, 2010
6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Reception to Follow

The New York Academy of Sciences
7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich St., 40th floor, NYC

This event is presented by Science & the City, the public outreach program of the New York Academy of Sciences, in partnership with Scientific American. To register online go to Press, please, contact Adrienne Burke,, (212) 298-8655.

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide since 1817. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, NYAS is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. NYAS' core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Visit us online at