Tag Archives: research

New Research Reveals How Magic Influences the Mind

Jay Olson is a student of psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal, but he also has an interesting side job that has come increasingly into play with his studies: performing magic tricks. As part of a paper recently published in Consciousness and Cognition, Olson conducted research that revealed how subtle environmental factors can strongly influence decisions with astounding predictability.

Like any good magician’s tricks, these cues are almost imperceptible to the human brain and rely on skillful sleight-of-hand as well as audience reading. Further research by people like Olson can help break through the hidden codes used in society, such as how advertisers influence buying behavior or politicians sway voters’ opinions. And while the techniques used by magicians will remain a secret, added transparency as to how our thoughts can be shepherded to a particular choice can help further understanding of the human brain and group communication. Continue reading

New Study Shows That Babies Can Learn from Watching Magic

Innocent glance

We have already talked about how watching magic can have a positive effect on the imaginations and creative problem solving of four- to six-year-olds. A newer study shows that magic can have just as profound of an effect on an even younger crowd: babies.

A new study published in the Science academic journal revealed that even children less than a year old can appreciate magic in unexpected ways. Babies were shown simple magic tricks that defied basic concepts of motion and physics. To the surprise of the researchers, the babies were able to pick up on the unusual events and showed more intentioned curiosity when examining the objects used in the trick.

This finding shows not only that babies have already developed a small sense of universal logic even at a young age, but that defying this logic through magic heightens brain activity and a desire to learn. Continue reading