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Stories by Stephen L. Macknik

Victorian Illusions

This week a new article on illusions from the Golden Age, written by Susana Martinez-Conde and me, came out: Scientific American Mind . The Victorian era was a watershed in brain science and the study of illusions and perception served as the cornerstone for the field of Psychology that grew from it. ...

October 19, 2015 — Stephen L. Macknik
A Second da Vinci Smile Has Been Discovered

Another da Vinci Smile Has Been Discovered

A long lost painting called "La Bella Principessa" reveals the earliest known use of his famous enigmatic smile technique from before the Mona Lisa was painted. The master seemed to intuit that the visual system is blurred in the periphery, and used the illusion to heightened effect in his art...

August 9, 2015 — Stephen L. Macknik
Convicts with Untrustworthy, Aggressive Faces more Likely to Get Death Penalty

Convicts with Untrustworthy, Aggressive Faces more Likely to Get Death Penalty

There is no governmental institution more dedicated to rational thought and fairness than the justice system, but a new study shows that illusory facial perception is clouding the minds of our judges and juries, who can potentially decide to kill people based on their appearance. ...

July 21, 2015 — Stephen L. Macknik
The Science Ball Where Everybody Wore the Same Dress

The Science Ball Where Everybody Wore the Same Dress

Our new column article (with co-author Bevil Conway, of Wellesley College & MIT)—on the topic of The Dress—came out on newsstands in  Scientific American: Mind  this week...

June 14, 2015 — Stephen L. Macknik

The Current Biology of the Dress

This week the first wave of research from scientific journals has begun to be published;  Current Biology  has posted a trio of papers by three different prominent competing color vision labs, each describing their initial studies of The Dress...

May 16, 2015 — Stephen L. Macknik
The Implication of Motion

The Implication of Motion

To celebrate our new article on implied motion in Scientific American Mind, here's a terrific movie of a chocolate zoetrope.

April 18, 2015 — Stephen L. Macknik
Brain Awareness Week in NYC

Brain Awareness Week in NYC

This week is Brain Awareness Week 2015! A number of great events are taking place around the world to promote public education of the brain and to support research in neurological and psychiatric diseases...

March 15, 2015 — Stephen L. Macknik
Why Julianne Moore and Taylor Swift See That Dress Differently

Why Julianne Moore and Taylor Swift See That Dress Differently

I don't think that the reason people see the dress differently from each other is an interesting brain process. Rather, it is a mundane differences in how people have viewed the image on their electronic display screens (phones, tablets, laptops, etc)...

February 27, 2015 — Stephen L. Macknik

Obsession at the Rubin Museum

The brain region underlying motivation and pleasure are directly interconnected in a loop that we neurophysiologists refer to as a circuit.

February 5, 2015 — Stephen L. Macknik

A New Reverspective

One of the very strange effects of reverse perspective is that the images seem to follow you as you pass by them. As if, while you are observing them, the pictures are watching you back...

January 25, 2015 — Stephen L. Macknik
With Black Art, iLuminate Dancers Dazzle Your Brain

With Black Art, iLuminate Dancers Dazzle Your Brain

iLuminate mixes dance, light, and computerized timing to create a unique amalgam of illusory perception. Imagine that all the neon in Times Square got together and performed Stomp.

January 13, 2015 — Stephen L. Macknik

How Brains Know Where Things Are—Making Space by Jennifer Groh

Groh launches her book with a BIG FAT LIE: she tells us that nine-tenths of our brain power is spent determining where things are. Then she immediately admits that she just made that up, but that she'd dedicate the rest of the book to explaining why she thinks its true...

December 13, 2014 — Stephen L. Macknik
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