TODAY   |  April 15, 2013

‘Brain Games’ trick Matt, Bryant Gumbel

National Geographic Channel’s new series “Brain Games” proves seeing is not always believing through a series of con games, optical illusions, and brain teasers. The show’s host, Jason Silva, and “the gentleman thief” Apollo Robbins give a taste of what viewers can expect.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> seeing is not always believing, at least that is the case on national geographic channel 's new series called " brain games ." each week the show will trick, sharpen and boggle your mind using an intricate string of con games , optical illusions , brain teasers and hard science . take a look.

>> you'll notice there are two blinking dots. question, are the dots alternating or blinking together at the same time? could you have your answer? if you said you're alternating you're like most people and like most people, you're wrong. surprise, we're actually blinking together.

>> jason silva -- we're not going to do well. jason silva is the host of brain games and paul robbins is known as the gentleman thief . good to see you.

>> i was on a treadmill the other day. it's like a baseball game. i was on a treadmill and started to see the protos and i got sucked in, i really did because you find yourself believing one thing when something else is true.

>> absolutely. the show is really what you see is not always what you get. it's a pop science theory making brain science accessible. the idea is to main stream the brain science . on the one hand the brain is the most complicated object in the universe and it has its built in shortcomings and these brain scientists great the interactive experiments so people at home can play along .

>> can you trick it by bypassing the obvious?

>> pretty much.

>> taking advantage of the obvious.

>> right. in other words once you ask a question with the dots we kind of guess okay, they are in sync.

>> there's a lot of experiments like that. we all think we live in a world that we experience as three-dimensional but we take in low resolution 2d images through our eyes and our brain fills it in and creates a 3d reality so we receive incomplete information and our brain fills it in and he exploits that brilliantly in the show.

>> boy does he exploit it. let's give us a warmup. you have a riddle. he's one of the smartest guys i've ever met.

>> oh, you haven't met many people.

>> this shows how your brain wants to fill and complete patterns. so the question is, mary's mother had four daughters, april, may, june and --

>> july.

>> wrong. because what happens is your brain is month, mary's mother had four daughters, april, may, june and --

>> don't be so fast. he thinks quickly. what do we call these tricks, illusions, what are they in.

>> they trick the mind because they take advantage of shortcuts, like that one your brain took a shortcut. sometimes you can jump ahead or sometimes you want to stop you from doing the shortcut. the old shell game which is a hustle, if you're watching here, place this as a bet. this is a 100 chip. you can see where the shell is and the pea it. when i love it almost where the pea goes. it's not what you think it would be.

>> do this one more time. one more time. we'll be a team.

>> don't watch the shells, watch right here and you almost see when it comes to if you see it go across if you're watching where would you say it is.

>> is that what you're saying?

>> 50/50.

>> bryant says this.

>> you became overconfident and that motion is what drew you in, when actually it's over here.

>> because you told to us look at that space.

>> i didn't tell you. you watched the pea go in between and you assume it's where you saw it.

>> you understand how the brain works and exploit it. you've got another one.

>> sure.

>> this is called follow the ace.

>> yes, you can use that with cards or things like that. would you mind coming around the side so you can see closer? you had your wall net your back left pocket?

>> i'll get you a wallet, i can afford it. i found a couple back stage. if you're watching something like the cards, card tricks traditionally when magicians do them, they take advantage of a card. push one of those out. in this case instead of it being a card trick , track that card. you put a four here and watching where that is and you can see it's about here. right now your brain starts to make an assumption, somehow that assumption is wrong and the four is over here. for this one you want to pan back so you can see your face as well. come closer, you see where the four goes. are you right-handed? is this the card on top or is it on the back of that one?

>> no.

>> jason was mentioned your resolution, it's amazing when you see the cameras you get the answer.

>> yes, sort of like liar's poker.

>> the secret is velcro.

>> again, the series on national geographic , the idea here is you're going to wow people with these stunts and illusions but if they pay attention they're going to learn something about how their brain operates.

>> absolutely. we call it lean-in programming. we designed the experiments and the star of the show is really your brain at home. if you play, lean in the show, you have that visceral appreciation of the wow and you're like how does that happen. then it becomes explained so one of the experts will come on board, i'll come on the screen, he comes on the screen and tells you this is because of intentional blindness or lateral prefrontal cortex goes crisscross.

>> that's why i can't putt.

>> sounds fascinating. i was hooked from the first promo so way to go. nice to see you..

>> thank you.

>> watch, everything's intact.