Professor Anthony Barnhart received his Ph.D. in cognitive science from Arizona State University, where he began his graduate career with the intention of being a language researcher. To this end, he has published research examining the processes underlying handwritten word perception, a domain that has been largely ignored by psychologists.
Prof. Barnhart is also a part-time professional magician with more than 20 years of performing experience. His research trajectory changed in 2010 with the publication of the book Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about our Everyday Deceptions, in which he was featured as a consultant and teacher on the science of stage magic. The scientific interest that the book garnered motivated Prof. Barnhart to shift his focus toward the interface of science and magic.
His research program in the science of magic explores the intuitions of magicians and attempts to marry this folk psychology with formal scientific models in the domains of attention and perception. This work has been featured in Science News For Kids as well as in national and international television appearances and documentaries, most recently appearing in the Science Channel’s “Hack My Brain” program.
As a performer, he employs psychological principles to elevate his magic’s impact and increase the audience’s sense of wonder. His magic has won four national competitions and has been featured in publications such as National Geographic World magazine, M-U-M Magazine (the official journal of the Society of American Magicians), and The Linking Ring (the journal of the International Brotherhood of Magicians).
This week! We get into some brain science! We dive into the hidden mechanisms of how we make sense of reality, how we make assumptions we don’t even know we’re making, the spotlight of attention, and a whole lot more.