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Magic is helping to unlock the mysteries of the human brain
31-10-2019, 08:21 AM
Post: #1
Magic is helping to unlock the mysteries of the human brain
In a brightly coloured shipping container in east London, Rubens Filho is asking me to pick a card. “Any card,” he says, fanning the pack out face down. “And don’t worry, you can show me. That’s not the point of this trick.”

I pull out the seven of spades, and show it to him; he gets me to sign my name on it with a marker pen. Then he slides it back into the middle of the pack, puts the cards back into their box and puts the box on the table in front of us. “Now,” he says with a grin, “the magic begins.” Filho is 51, tall, handsome and infectiously enthusiastic about the power of magic tricks and illusions. Born in Brazil, he’s been a keen magician since adolescence. He came to Britain in 2012 to work in advertising, before, in 2015, setting up Abracademy, a startup dedicated to bringing magic – and in particular the skills needed to perform it – to the rest of us. “I think magic has a such a positive twist,” he says. “It brings this soft approach that’s hard to explain, this role of creating something beautiful.”

But he is also fascinated by the relationship between magic and neuroscience and psychology, and set up Abracademy Labs, an offshoot of Abracademy, to explore this connection. “Magic has lived in the ‘glitches’ of the brain for a long time,” he says. “How you see things, how you form beliefs, how you experience wonder. And it has the capacity to create wonder by creating something that people can’t explain. You just say ‘Wow,’ and then comes: ‘How do you do that?’ So we explore what happens when we experience something like that. We’re very interested in going deep, deep down into the brain.”


On this summer afternoon at Abracademy’s base in Hackney’s Container Park, Filho has been trying to create something beautiful, and new. We stand on either side of a small felt-topped table – the cards, tucked away in their box, between us – and Filho is a little nervous. There’s music playing from the office MacBook, one of his colleagues is filming the whole thing, and a couple of others are looking on. It turns out they have been rehearsing the trick most of the day.


https://www.wired.co.uk/article/magic-neuroscience
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