Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 18:33 UK

Magic tricks aid research project

David Blaine
The methods of David Blaine should be studied, researchers say

Researchers at Durham University have turned into magicians to better understand how humans think and act.

They claim methods used by magicians like David Blaine to manipulate perception could be used to improve the next generation of computers.

They developed a series of magic tricks as part of a research project with colleagues from British Columbia.

The team say attempts to link magic and human cognition have been largely ignored by modern psychology.

Researchers say their findings have potential long-term applications in activities which aim to grab people's attention, such as human-computer interfaces, which are thought to become increasingly more complicated.

'Laws of physics'

Dr Gustav Kuhn, who works in Durham University's psychology department but is also a practising magician, said: "Magicians are in some ways miles ahead of scientists.

"For example, imagine a ball tossed into the air that suddenly disappears, or someone successfully predicting what you will do next.

"These tricks may seem like they defy the laws of physics and logic but they are actually created through a combination of skill and a deep knowledge of human psychology.

"By drawing upon the practical knowledge and experience of magicians, scientists may obtain new insights into various areas of human perception and cognition that we are still struggling to understand.

"Although the methods we have developed are proving very useful in investigating the mind, in our dual roles as scientists and magicians, we take great care in protecting the mysteries and secrets of magic."

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30 Apr 08 |  Entertainment

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Asian Age Magic tricks can reveal brain secrets - 33 hrs ago Magic Tricks Reveal Mysteries of Human Mind - 34 hrs ago
Wired News The Science of Magic - 37 hrs ago
Mirror Magicians could help scientists understand psychology - 44 hrs ago
Sky News Magic Tricks May Open The Mind - 51 hrs ago

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