For millennia magicians have observed, studied and explored human behaviours, and cognition, to create new miracles with which to amaze their audiences. The intuitive knowledge that magicians have of the human brain, that has been passed down through generations, from masters to apprentices, constitutes today an endless source of useful information that neuroscientists and psychologists started to apply in their research merely a decade ago.
The art of conjuring is helping scientists to further explore open questions about cognitive processes such as memory, decision-making and consciousness, as well as perception. In the same way that, in the past, optical illusions have largely helped to better understand the visual system, cognitive illusions such as magic constitute a powerful tool with which to unravel the mechanisms that are behind phenomena of cognition, yet not completely described, such as false memories, force choices, inattentional blindness, change blindness, etc.
Although a growing number of laboratories around the world have started to be interested in this new field of research, there is no lab, yet, exclusively dedicated to the study of the neuroscience and psychology of magic. This is the reason why Abracademy, in collaboration with Goldsmiths University, have unified efforts to create AbraLabs: a space to study the brain using the theory and techniques that constitute the art of magic.
At AbraLabs, neuroscientists and psychologists, together with professional magicians, will be working and sharing knowledge in order to design new paradigms that can shed light to the still obscure questions of human cognition.
This will become a place of experimentation, exploration and conversation. We'll post more information soon!
Abracademy, May 2018