Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Neuroscience of Illusion

I don't know if it's an original quote, but George Lucas once said The secret to film is that it's an illusion. And it's certainly the truth. At ColorBurst Video, we are big fans of magic and know a few tricks of sleight-of-hand that we've practiced in addition to the special effects. That's why a recent article on caught my attention and I wanted to share it with you. It features incites from Teller of Penn and Teller, along with some video clips of their magic act.

For Teller (that's his full legal name), magic is more than entertainment. He wants his tricks to reveal the everyday fraud of perception so that people become aware of the tension between what is and what seems to be. Our brains don't see everything—the world is too big, too full of stimuli. So the brain takes shortcuts, constructing a picture of reality with relatively simple algorithms for what things are supposed to look like. Magicians capitalize on those rules. Every time you perform a magic trick, you're engaging in experimental psychology, Teller says. If the audience asks, How the hell did he do that? then the experiment was successful. I've exploited the efficiencies of your mind.

See the full article on the Neuroscience of Illusion at

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