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| Magician and neuroscientist Gustav Kuhn performs the vanishing ball trick in these video stills. On the third "throw" (beginning at 4 seconds), Kuhn secretly palms the ball. In his study, 68 percent of spectators (who wore equipment to track their eye movements) reported watching the ball the entire time and seeing it vanish at its zenith. But a different story emerges from eye-tracking data showing where study participants actually looked. During the first two throws, most participants looked at Kuhn's face, then his hand, then above his head -- tracking the ball's path (bars indicate the number of participants who looked at each spot). But during the fake throw, most never looked above Kuhn's head, where the ball supposedly vanished. Instead, they gazed at Kuhn's face or his hand. The eyes knew the ball didn't leave the hand, even though the brain thought otherwise.
Credit: G. Kuhn, M.F. Land/Current Biology 2006