Imaging the impossible: an fMRI study of impossible causal relationships in magic tricks

Parris, Ben A., Kuhn, Gustav, Mizon, Guy A. , Benattayallah, Abdelmalek and Hodgson, Tim L. (2009) Imaging the impossible: an fMRI study of impossible causal relationships in magic tricks. NeuroImage, 45 (3). pp. 1033-1039. ISSN 1053-8119

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Understanding causal relationships and violations of those relationships is fundamental to learning about the world around us. Over time some of these relationships become so firmly established that they form part of an implicit belief system about what is possible and impossible in the world. Previous studies investigating the neural correlates of violations of learned relationships have focused on relationships that were task-specific and probabilistic. In contrast, the present study uses magic-trick perception as a means of investigating violations of relationships that are long-established, deterministic, and that form part of the aforementioned belief system. Compared to situations in which expected causal relationships are observed, magic trick perception recruited dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), brain regions associated with the detection of conflict and the implementation of cognitive control. These activations were greater in the left hemisphere, supporting a role for this hemisphere in the interpretation of complex events. DLPFC is more greatly activated by magic tricks than by surprising events, but not more greatly activated by surprising than non surprising events, suggesting that this region plays a special role in causality processing. The results suggest a role for cognitive control regions in the left hemisphere in a neurobiology of disbelief. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords:adult, article, cingulate gyrus, cognition, conflict, controlled study, female, functional magnetic resonance imaging, human, human experiment, left hemisphere, magic, male, neuroimaging, normal human, perception, prefrontal cortex, priority journal, task performance, Adolescent, Brain, Brain Mapping, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:10522
Deposited On:16 Dec 2013 15:50

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