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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 213
Professor
Jelena Ristic
Semester
Winter

Description
Towards a Science of Magic- Handout Introduction:  Magic looks as if it is defying the laws of physic and logic, but magicians are actually just making you believe in “impossible” events  Box 1: o Successful magic relies on the spectator experiencing an effect while being unaware of the method  need to prevent audience from detecting this method o Need to manipulate the spectators assumptions to make “magic” work  Enhance power of illusions o Magicians have learnt a lot about human cognition through practice and successful tricks Misdirection:  Diversion of attention away from its method so that an audience does not know how it is produced Related to in cognition only a small part of the visual information enters our eyes and cognition Physical misdirection:  Control of attention by a stimulus  certain stimulus often capture our attention  Create areas of high interest that capture attention while the method is carried out in areas of low interest  Techniques: o Audience looks where magician is looking  In cognition, eye gaze leads to shift of attention o Movement, high contrast and novelty o Attentional capture: attention is pulled away by an irrelevant task  Can also be achieved by “off-beat” moments which lead to a momentary relaxation during which the spectator’s attentional ‘hold’ is relatively weak  Body posture  Box 2: o Disappearance of a lighter and cigarette manipulated by three things  Surprise  The disappearance of the lighter automatically leads to interest  Social cues  The magician looks at his hand that previously held the lighter and rotates his body in that direction  Movement and sound  At the time of the drop the magician snaps his finger and waves his hand, thereby attracting attention Psychological misdirection:  Control of attention by manipulating spectators expectations o Similar to endogenous control in cognition where attentional orienting is determined by a person’s goals and intentions  Aim is to reduce suspicion that a deceptive method has been used o Can use a prop o Keeping audience in suspense  as long as the audience does not know what to expect, they will not know which parts of the routine are important and will not direct their attention there o False solution  magician will highlight this in order to draw attention away from the real solution Illusion:  Form of intelligent hallucination o Need to apply assumptions, which can sometimes lead to errors Optical illusions:  Rely on tricks such as intricate mirror combinations and perspectives o Manipulating perspective of an object o Ghost illusions using mirrors and lighting allows objects to appear and disappear in full view o Make one object seem to morph into another Cognitive illusions:  Rely on higher level cognitive factors o Vanishing coin illusion:  Spectator believes that the magician is transferring a coin from one hand to another while they are in fact just concealing it in the first hand  Create false actions which lead the spectator to believe they are real  Occur because speed of neural transmission causes a delay between visual stimulus and conscious percept o To compensate for this, we tend to try to predict the outcome of the event, but this can lead to deception  Box 3: o Many magical illusions rely on an impression of seeing something based on expectations rather than reality o Ex: vanishing ball illusion  Pretends to throw a ball in the air while it in fact stays concealed in his hand  When he pretends to follow the ball with his eyes, more people recalled seeing the ball moving than when he looked at his hand Forcing:  Your choices are actually highly controlled  can be systematically influenced Physical force:  When asked to physically select a card from a shuffled deck, spectators assume there are 52 equally divided cards and they are properly shuffled, but that may not be true  The order of the cards can also be controlled Mental force:  Spectator asked to simply think of a card o Magician manipulates the presentation of the cards so as to favor a particular choice  Giving a certain card longer exposure  Exploit the use of false memories Potential developments:  Few effects have been explored scientifically and few mechanisms involved are understood  Both psychology and magic could learn a lot from each other o Could be done by a ‘science of magic’ which would explain all the known magic effects in terms of known perceptual an cognitive mechanisms  Any effect not reducible to a mechanism might suggest one not yet known o Might also suggest new kinds of magic effects based on perceptual mechanisms usually drawn upon  Could also have practical applications o Might make computer interactions easier and more transparent  Attentional misdirection o Forcing can be have applications in decision making Sensitivity to eye gaze in autisms: Is it normal? Is it automatic? Is it social? – handout Abstract:  Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social communication along with repetitive behavior  Deficit in the development in joint visual attention o Joint visual attention includes sensitivity to the direction of another person’s eye gaze  There seems to be intact orienting to eye gaze in laboratory experiments o Under which circumstances is there reduced sensitivity to eye gaze?  Importance of eye gaze following behavior in triadic communication o Ability to trace a line of sight to discern the object of the eye’s fixation o Provides information about danger or mental states of others  important component of social interaction Spontaneous gaze following in typical development and autism:  Typically develops during infancy o Interest in faces  Preference for open eyes and direct gaze o Begin to scan the eye region of the face preferentially at 2 months o By about 4 months can discriminate gaze direction o By 6 months readily orient attention to objects being looked at by another person (if in their visual field) o By 9-10 months, can find an object outside their visual field o Can follow eye gaze precisely by 18 months  Deficits in face discrimination and recognition in individuals with autism o Less interest in looking at faces o Less interest in looking at eyes o Less mutual gaze and gaze-following behavior  They can discern where another person is looking though just as well as normal children can(shown through experiment)  Very poor at monitoring gaze and tended not to follow a change in another person’s head and eye direction, suggesting they fail to spontaneously orient their attention to the target of someone else’s gaze  Later was found that in children with autism that rather than a long term absence, they are delayed developmentally in this behavior which is associated with mental age (above 4 years in laboratory studies, might not be the same for in real life when the environment is more complex)  Chronological and mental age are both important factors for the development of gaze following where for non-autistic children it is based just on chronological age What underlies delays in spontaneous gaze following children with autism?:  Children might fail to interpret gaze or head movement as an index of the other person’s state of attention o Deficits in the theory of mind o Gaze following does not however require a representation of the other person’s mental state  Develops in monkeys, who do not have this representation o Important motivation behind eye gaze though o Lack of this but motivation might result in a reduction or delay in eye-gaze following  Can’t be the whole story though  given that the ability to represent other people’s mental states is not necessary for gaze following, why is it that children with autism do not engage in gaze-following behavior? o Might be a learned process from repeated exposure to the pairing of a gaze or head- turn cue and a rewarding of the location indicated o Might be due to problems orienting attention in response to direction of eye gaze Reflexive attentional cueing: Methods and typical development:  Tendency for an individual to look in the same direction as someone else is looking o Demonstrated in lab experiments using a Posner-style spatial cueing diagram o Faster to identify stimulus located where the eye gaze of someone else is (valid location) than where the gaze is not directed (nonvalid location)  Validity effect  Even when the cue is only valid 50% of the time  Occurs when the interval between the onset of the gaze cue and the stimulus is short (stimulus onset asynchrony, SOA 105-1000ms)  Suggests tendency to move attention to the location of another person’s eye gaze is reflexive and not dependent on the recruitment of voluntary attention o Several studies have shown that eye gaze cues contained in a static image of a face elicit a reflexive orienting response in nonautistic adult viewers  Same effect in children as young as 4 months  Cues reflexive attentional orienting from a young age  Specific to biologically relevant cues Is reflexive orienting to eye gaze intact in autism?:  Most publications find no evidence for deficits in attentional orienting to social stimuli in people with autism o Showed validity effect when responding to a target cued by moving eye gaze  No differences between them and control group o Validity effect as well in response to a full-face, static eye direction cue  Strong evidence for automatic reflexive orienting response to eye gaze in children with autisms  Only of limited relevance, were on high end of the spectrum and were older children o May sti
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