This 'magic trick' is based on distraction and change blindness.
It works if the act of selecting the birds distracted you from remembering the original cards. You know if you have suffered 'change blindness' if going back through the steps will only provide the answer. Psychologists that study change blindness have found even big obvious changes can sometimes be invisible until you take another look.
What's the answer for our trick?
Well, none of the five cards above were in the first series of cards. Some people get this straight way, other people get affected by change blindness and illusion works. Click here to make sure if you'd like...
Watch this brilliant video by Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire for a great example of this phenomenon... just watch the WHOLE video:
(Thanks to Scientific American December 2008 for pointing this one out)
Change blindness can occur even when a change is expected. All that is needed is the change to occur during a blink, a slight eye movement (known as a saccade) or just a flicker in the scene itself. The question now for researchers is to why various magic tricks involving misdirection work, specifically, what is happening with the neurons in the brain to achieve the cognitive illusions we see at a magic show.
Our bet is that magicians may want to hold onto their secrets just a little longer.
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