Biology · Neuroscience · Psychology

Stephen Macknik

“Magic tricks work because humans have a hardwired process of attention and awareness that is hackable.”


Stephen Macknik completed a triple-major in Psychobiology, Biology, and Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1991. Thereafter, he completed his PhD in Neurobiology at Harvard University in 1996, under the supervision of Prof. Margaret Livingstone. He received his postdoctoral training from the Nobel Laureate Prof. David Hubel at Harvard Medical School.

Currently he is a Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurology, and Physiology and Pharmacology at the State University of New York. He is best known for his studies on illusions, consciousness, attentional misdirection in stage magic, and cerebral blood flow.

He authored the international bestseller Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About our Everyday Deceptions with Susana Martínez-Conde. Steve and Susana write the “Illusions” column for Scientific American Mind and the “Illusion Chasers” blog for the Scientific American blog network, and work with international science museums, foundations and nonprofit organizations to promote neuroscience education and communication.

Steve and Susana’s research has been featured in print in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, The LA Chronicle, The Times (London), The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, Der Spiegel, etc., and in radio and TV shows, including Discovery Channel’s Head Games and Daily Planet Shows, NOVA: ScienceNow, CBS Sunday Morning and, NPR’s Science Friday.

Participation in CDI:

  • 2015

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20th to the 22th of November 2020

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