How do magicians fool their audiences? In order to find out what’s going on in the brains of people who are watching magic tricks, researchers are using fMRI scanning technology on volunteers. Hey, it’s just one more more way to have fun in the lab!

In New Scientist, Ewen Callaway quotes neuroscientist Ben Parris as saying that brain scans serve as a “lie detector for magic tricks,” because they show us how our brains deal with things that just don’t add up.

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And drinking (just not at the same time!) – We all know that teens are terrible drivers, and some municipalities want to take away drivers licenses from people over 70. But it turns out that grandpa is doing just fine (unless he’s a golfer).

Despite growing numbers on the road, fewer older drivers died in crashes and fewer were involved in fatal collisions during 1997-2006 than in years past. Compared with drivers ages 35-54 (to say nothing of teens!), older drivers experienced much bigger declines in fatal crash involvements. Reasons for the fatality declines aren’t clear, but some people think it’s because older adults increasingly self-limit their driving as they age and develop physical and cognitive impairments.
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These days, in a lab at a university, you can experience the flashing lights and melodious sounds of a one-armed bandit being played, as scientists study gambling addiction.

University of North Dakota sychologist Jeff Weatherly says, “We have a unique opportunity in this state because, to my knowledge, it is the only state that allows researchers to own slot machines and to allow people to actually play with real money. In every other state, that would be a felony.”

He should know: There was a brief period when Weatherly’s experiments actually were considered illegal. State law prohibited the general ownership of non-antique slot machines for the purpose of gambling, or wagering anything of value on a probabilistic outcome.
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It doesn’t always add up – Bad economic times like these call for extreme measures (at least some very important things are on sale). One problem: not everyone realizes that $1 equals 100 cents.

A new study suggests that, in some situations, people may behave as if 100 cents actually has more value because they pay more attention to the number of coins involved than the actual economic value. So people are more impressed by 100 cents than they are with $1, because 100 is larger than one.
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