Keith Barry: Brain Magic

The way in which ‘magic’ works is now intriguing neuroscientists as the art of illusion describes certain aspects of brain function.

What we see is created by the brain, using the basic information via the eye and optic nerve, then creating our reality with pre-existing knowledge of the world, expectation and fills in the gaps. Arguably, all that we see and feel are illusions as they are created by our unique brains.

With pain being a brain experience, some argue that pain is an illusion. Do not misunderstand this to mean that you cannot feel it, but rather that the brain allocates pain to a body location using the body schema – see the next video. Understanding this process allows for Keith Barry and others to deceive us and entertain with the seemingly impossible.

Creating therapeutic illusions can change pain perception. For example, altering the perceived size of the painful area and mirror box therapy are two examples. We use these techniques commonly, often with great effect that allows for a period of healthy movement and ‘good’ feedback to the brain, hence helping with the desensitising process – see here.

If you suffer symptoms as a result of a car accident, you may like to fast forward through the driving trick.


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