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The true magic of the magician’s performance: their audience’s reaction to the famous monkey trick!

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A new study shows monkeys are easier to fool with a popular trick if they have opposable thumbs, showing how our anatomy affects our ability to perceive the world around us.

“Our work raises the intriguing possibility that a person’s innate physical abilities strongly influence their perception and memory of what they think they have seen, as well as their ability to predict the hand movements of others,” explains psychologist Nicola Clayton of Cambridge University. university. In Great Britain.

Watching others complete a task can activate the same areas of the brain that would light up if we were performing the task ourselves. This happens in our mirror neuron system, and the more familiar we are with a task, the more accurately our brain reflects it.

In ballet dancers, mirror neurons are activated more when watching ballet dances than, for example, during capoeira dances. These actions are hard-coded in our brains as a chain of cause and effect to provide an anticipatory effort for normal movements.

And sorcerers can use our addiction to this mental map to manipulate our perceptions. For example, if a magician shows you a coin in one hand and makes motions to take it with the other, you will be forgiven for assuming that the coin has passed from one hand to the other.

This is true even when the coin is blocked and the magician leaves the coin in the first hand.

Comparative psychologist Elias Garcia-Pellegrin, a practicing magician with a decade of experience, was curious to know whether the ability to personally perform a series of actions is necessary in order for mirror neurons to build the same sequence of steps.

During the study, Garcia Pellegrin, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, and a group of colleagues tested 24 monkeys representing three species. First, they showed the monkeys their favorite treat. Then they pretended to pass the treat with a “French toss”, or actually transferred it to the other hand.

Each test was based on an accurate grip of the object with the thumb, regardless of whether the transmission was real or fake.

They also made several real transfers of rewards from one hand to another.

Each test looks like the magician is using a precise grip, including the thumb, to move the subject, whether the hand is real or fake.

Not all sleight of hand tricks require the use of the thumb. Although monkeys may not be able to perform variations on their own, there is nothing in their anatomy that prevents them from experimenting with them.

In another round of testing, the researchers used a fist to grab (or pretend to grab) an object, rather than a claw, which seems to fool the three types of monkeys most of the time.

“Squirrel monkeys can’t do a complete microcapture, but they remain tricked,” explains Garcia-Pellegrin. “This suggests that a monkey doesn’t have to be an expert on movement to predict it, it can only roughly understand what’s going on.” do it.”

“There is growing evidence that the same parts of the nervous system that are used when we perform an action are also activated when we observe the actions of others,” says Clayton.

The psychologist continues: “The way our fingers move affects how we think, what assumptions we make about the world, and what other people can see, remember, and expect based on their expectations.”

This study was published in the journal Current Biology.

Source: Science Alert

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