Illusions developed by magicians are a rich and largely untapped source of insight into perception and cognition. Here we show that curved motion, as employed by the magician in a classic sleight of hand trick, generates stronger misdirection than rectilinear motion, and that this difference can be explained by the differential engagement of the smooth pursuit and the saccadic oculomotor systems. This research exemplifies how the magician’s intuitive understanding of the spectator’s mindset can surpass that of the cognitive scientist in specific instances, and that observation-based behavioral insights developed by magicians are worthy of quantitative investigation in the neuroscience laboratory.
Keywords: saccades, smooth pursuit, magic, illusion, sleight of hand, eye movements
Citation: Otero-Millan J, Macknik SL, Robbins A, McCamy M and Martinez-Conde S (2011) Stronger misdirection in curved than in straight motion. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 5:133. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2011.00133
Received: 10 April 2011;
Accepted: 24 October 2011;
Published online: 21 November 2011.
Edited by:Luis M. Martinez, Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche, Spain
Reviewed by:Luis M. Martinez, Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche, Spain
Copyright: © 2011 Otero-Millan, Macknik, Robbins, McCamy and Martinez-Conde. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.
*Correspondence: Susana Martinez-Conde, Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience, Division of Neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute, 350 West Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ 85013, USA. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org