Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Barrow Researchers Selected by Scientific American to Author Popular Column on Illusions

September 7, 2011

PHOENIX, Sept. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Two neuroscientists from Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, who are popularizing the once-grim topic of brain research by connecting it to sensory illusions and stage magic, have been selected by Scientific American MIND magazine to co-author the publication’s popular column about illusions.

Beginning this year, Susana Martinez-Conde, PhD, and Stephen Macknik, PhD, will regularly pen the column that deals with everything from Mona Lisa’s smile to the illusion of love. The magazine is published every other month.

Drs. Macknik and Martinez-Conde have spent their careers studying the connection of vision and the brain. Their research recently has led to an unorthodox partnership with several of the world’s top magicians who are now helping with the scientific research.

The Barrow researchers have contributed to Scientific American and Scientific American MIND for years, including guest-authoring several popular illusion articles. Dr. Macknik says illusions are a lot more than entertainment for the Barrow scientists. “An illusion occurs whenever the physical reality does not match the perception that your brain constructs. Research exploring the neural basis of perception and especially illusions is critical, because when we study illusions we are looking directly at what the brain is really doing, and not what we assume it should be doing.”

Physicians at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix perform more brain surgeries than anywhere in the world. St. Joseph’s Barrow is consistently voted one of the Top 10 hospitals in the nation.

“To fix the brain in the clinics and surgical suites here at Barrow, we must first know how the brain works when it’s not broken,” says Dr. Martinez-Conde. “The brain is the most mysterious and complicated of all the organs of the body. Studying illusions allows us to understand who we are.”

Drs. Martinez-Conde and Macknik recently authored their first book, Sleights of Mind, published by Henry Holt & Co., which details their probe of magic and the brain. Sleights of Mind was excerpted in Scientific American MIND in 2010. They are currently writing a second book, titled Champions of Illusion, to be published by Scientific American / Farrar Strauss and Giroux.

Barrow Neurological Institute is internationally recognized as a leader in neurological research, diagnosis and patient care. Its world-renowned physicians treat patients with a wide range of neurological conditions, including brain and spinal tumors, cerebrovascular conditions, movement and neuromuscular disorders. Barrow was founded in 1962 at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. St. Joseph’s is consistently voted among the Top 10 hospitals for neurological services in the United States. In 2011 Barrow expanded to include a pediatric services location at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

SOURCE Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center

Source: PR Newswire