University of Leicester
2017CaffarattiHCPhD.pdf (9.42 MB)

A Study of Behavioural and Neural Signatures of Perceptual and Cognitive Illusions Induced by Magic Effects

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posted on 2017-12-20, 14:09 authored by Hugo Andrés Caffaratti
For millennia magicians have entertained their audiences by manipulating perception, as well as other cognitive processes, such as attention, memory, and decision-making. In the past decade psychologists and neuroscientists have realized that this intuitive knowledge magicians have about the human mind can be used to further investigate some aspects of human perception and cognition, from a novel perspective. Whilst most of the research done in this field, to date, has been focused on subjects’ behavioural responses elicited by a magic trick, very little has used the unparalleled nature of the magic’s cognitive illusions to further study the neural bases of perception. It is within this context, that this thesis presents, in Chapter 2, two experiments, both of them, showing behavioural and evoked responses of subjects while watching an oddball sequence of continues, unedited videos of a magic trick known as Chop-Cup (where a ball appears ‘magically’ under a cup). Altogether, in both experiments, it was found that, on the one hand, subjects’ behavioural responses were strongly biased by the magic trick, and on the other, that the neural responses were modulated by the oddball sequence of stimulus presentation, as expected. In addition, in the second experiment it was found, that the same retinal stimulus, the ball (having appeared ‘magically’ or ‘naturally’) —elicited different brain responses. This novel paradigm, as well as paving the way for investigating perception and cognition under more natural conditions, required the development of a new set of technical approaches for its correct implementation, which are discussed in Chapter 1.



Quian Quiroga, Rodrigo; Rey, Hernan

Date of award


Author affiliation

Department of Engineering

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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