Thursday, August 28, 2008

The neuroscience of magic

What do magicians know about the brain? A lot, it turns out.

Our everyday experience of life is deeply colored by the way our brains work, quirks and all. Magic is a great example that brings this principle home. Two visual neuroscientists and a number of magicians, including Teller and James Randi, have collaborated to write a fun article about the neuroscience of magic. It's in the August issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience and is entitled "Attention and awareness in stage magic: turning tricks into research." Also read coverage here and here.


Joseph F. said...

A serious error in Chapter 16, page
101under Did you know? Emotions &
Memory. The vagus nerve is a para-
sympathetic nerve NOT sympathetic.The
vagus nerve originates on the lateral
medulla oblongata. The vagus does
NOT become activated by adrenaline.
Whoever wrote this is not familiar
with basic neuro-antomy!

Who edited this book?

Sam Wang said...

Joseph F., thank you for noticing this. One part of your correction is correct - the vagus nerve is indeed parasympathetic, not sympathetic.

However, the rest of your criticism is misplaced. The ascending vagus nerve is indeed activated by adrenaline in emotional memory formation. See this review by McGaugh.

Our book was read over by dozens of our neuroscientist colleagues. Of course, any remaining errors are our responsibility. If you have any further feedback please feel free to contact us directly.

Loxodonta africana said...

Thank you for acknowledging my comments and for the correction
about epinephrine activating the
ascending vagus in emotional memory