NatGeo’s Brain Games: Assignment


In making sense of a busy world, the human brain’s most powerful tool is its ability to focus, or pay attention. Interestingly, the leading experts on attention are magicians and illusionists, who elegantly control their audience’s minds by manipulating their ability to focus. There are many ways to manipulate attention, as ably demonstrated by the show’s host, David Copperfield, and Las Vegas sleight of hand maestro, Apollo Robbins.

For those who consider themselves adept at multitasking, it may come as a shock to learn that the human brain can only focus on one thing at a time. In fact, our brains are hardwired with countless shortcuts in order to essentialise the world. We focus only on what counts. Professor David Strayer demonstrates this fact by testing a “supertasker” CEO, tracking how much his performance suffers for each of the tasks he undertakes simultaneously.

Learn about neurological phenomena, such as inattentional blindness and the Stroop effect, and how they affect us. Neuroscientist, Professor Amir Raz, demonstrates the power of hypnosis and how it can be used to fine-tune attention by shutting down automatic signals. According to results from the latest research, it seems that through practices such as hypnosis and meditation, we can begin to rewire the brain and increase our ability to focus, thereby boosting performance of everyday tasks.

True to its name, Brain Games is sprinkled with a series of games that test the viewer’s attention. Combining magic tricks and contemporary research, the program illustrates some of the brain’s most fascinating functions that affect us every day, and shares easy-to-digest scientific explanations of those functions.


Task 1
Write 100 words to explain how magicians use misdirection to manipulate their audience’s attention. Then describe a magic trick that uses this technique.

Task 2
In 150 words, define what is meant by multitasking and explain why 98% of humans are not good at it. In your answer, describe what happens in the brain when people try to text while driving a car, and how this affects performance.


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