The Perception of Magic in Neuroscience

Magic has always captured the minds and hearts of people around the world, regardless of preference. Many still prefer to attend performances where magicians would show the world what they do best, namely magic tricks. This craving for magic tricks can easily be explained by the fact that people are curious and like to look for meaning in all things. As many believe, magic seems to be an incomprehensible art and impossible to understand. However, it is only a matter of human perception and attentiveness, which is what this paper will be about.

Although it seems that there are people who are capable of questioning the laws of physics with their own hands, this is not the case. There are many revelations about famous illusionists and magicians, which they do not even question and only rejoice when a trick has been solved. The human perception of reality can distort what is happening so that sometimes it seems that magic exists.

The most popular tricks are the visual effects that impress the viewer and raise many questions. It’s all about the brain’s neural circuitry, which throws off options with the most sensible solution to the illusionist’s trickery. The brain stands in the way of perceiving the trick as a visual deception rather than as magic. The most popular trick in this category is bending a spoon, where the magician seems to be able to turn a piece of metal with just a glance (Macknik et al., 2008). This is impossible, but we deceive ourselves and believe in magic more than the magician brings the spoon to the correct angle and makes an optical illusion.

Magicians are just as adept at playing with our memory as they are at playing card tricks with remembering one particular card. It’s all down to the sleight of hand of the so-called magician and his ability to remember their location. There is no magic and is nothing more than a professional playing with the human mind, slick and swift. All magicians have a standard set of rules, such as not telling their secrets. They have been honing their skills for years for just one trick because that is how it works. Their every move makes sense, and it is not allowed to do anything unnecessary. Everything must be clear and always in the right place at the right time.

The necessary nuance is also to make the spectator think and look where the illusionist wants to go. Fast movements are only part of the arsenal of a skilled magician. Skilled magicians also use the fact that they can make the spectator talk and gain their confidence. It’s not so hard to pull off a trick when you know what the other person is thinking. Many politicians, sociologists, and historians also extensively use this trick. Proper manipulation is one of the most critical skills of an illusionist.

We can safely say that magic does not exist, and there is only the human mind admiring those things which it does not understand. It is easier to ascribe magical properties and not think about how this or that phenomenon happened. It’s just a matter of how easy it is to fool people and how much they want it. Everything is about perspective and the way of thinking. Every trick has its weak points, and the only things needed are patience and luck.


Macknik, S. L., King, M., Randi, J., Robbins, A., Teller, Thompson, J., & Martinez-Conde, S. (2008). Attention and awareness in stage magic: Turning tricks into research. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(11), 871–879.

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PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'The Perception of Magic in Neuroscience'. 3 April.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "The Perception of Magic in Neuroscience." April 3, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "The Perception of Magic in Neuroscience." April 3, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "The Perception of Magic in Neuroscience." April 3, 2023.