Anthony Barnhart

  • Associate Professor of Psychological Science
    Email Address:
    Office location:
    Lentz Hall 224E

    Professor Anthony Barnhart received his Ph.D. in cognitive science from Arizona State University, where he began his graduate career with the intention of being a language researcher. To this end, he has published research examining the processes underlying handwritten word perception, a domain that has been largely ignored by psychologists until now.

    Prof. Barnhart is also a part-time professional magician with more than 30 years of performing experience. His research trajectory changed in 2010 with the publication of the book Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about our Everyday Deceptions, in which he was featured by the authors as a consultant and teacher on the science of stage magic. The scientific interest that the book garnered motivated Prof. Barnhart to shift his focus toward the interface of science and magic.

    His research program in the science of magic explores the intuitions of magicians and attempts to marry this folk psychology with formal scientific models in the domains of attention and perception. This work has been featured in Science News For Kids as well as in national and international television appearances and documentaries, most recently appearing on the long-running CBC science program, The Nature of Things.

    As a performer, he employs psychological principles to elevate his magic’s impact and increase the audience’s sense of wonder. His magic has won four national competitions and has been featured in publications such as National Geographic World magazine, M-U-M Magazine (the official journal of the Society of American Magicians), and The Linking Ring (the journal of the International Brotherhood of Magicians).

    Personal Webpage:

    • Ph.D. — Arizona State University
    • M.A. — Arizona State University
    • B.A. — Augustana College
    • PYC 1500 Introduction to Psychological Science
    • PYC 1900 The Cognitive Science of Magic
    • PYC 2010 Research Methods & Statistics I
    • PYC 2150 Sensation and Perception
    • PYC 2300 Cognitive Psychology
    • PYC 4800 Thesis in Psychological Science

    Prof. Barnhart’s research interests include: Handwritten word perception, the science of magic, attentional deployment in time, inattentional blindness.

    Barnhart, A. S. & Cameron, E. L. (2017). MRI: Acquisition of an Eye Tracking System. • Agency: NSF, BCS – Major Research Instrumentation • Outcome: funded; $37,190

    Curriculum Vitae

    Refereed Publications: (◊ denotes undergraduate student collaborators)

    Barnhart, A. S., Richardson, K. , & Eric, S. (in press). Tactical blinking in magicians: A tool for self- and other-deception. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice.

    Ortega, J., Montañes, P., Barnhart, A., & Kuhn, G. (2021). Differential effects of experience and information cues on metacognitive judgments about others’ change detection abilities. i-Perception,12(2), 1–2.

    Godwin, H. J., Hout, M. C., Alexdottir, K. J., Walenchok, S. C., & Barnhart, A. S. (2021). Avoiding potential pitfalls in visual search and eye movement experiments: A tutorial review. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.

    Patt, L. , & Barnhart, A. (2021). Understanding best practices: A look into homelessness related alcoholism. Journal of Student Research, 10(2).

    Barnhart, A. S., Costela, F. M., Martinez-Conde, S., Macknik, S. L., & Goldinger, S. D. (2019). Microsaccades reflect the dynamics of misdirected attention in magic. Journal of Eye Movement Research, 12(6).

    Ortega, J., Montañes, P., Barnhart, A., & Kuhn, G. (2018). Exploiting failures in metacognition through magic: Visual awareness as a source of visual metacognition bias. Consciousness & Cognition, 65, 152-168.

    Barnhart, A. S., Ehlert, M. J. , Goldinger, S. D., & Mackey, A. D. (2018) Cross-modal attentional entrainment: Insights from magicians. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 80, 1240-1249.

    Goldinger, S. D., Papesh, M. H., Barnhart, A. S., Hansen, W. A., & Hout, M. C. (2016). The poverty of embodied cognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23, 959-978.

    Barnhart, A. S. & Goldinger, S. D. (2015). Orthographic and phonological neighborhood effects in handwritten word perception. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 22, 1739-1745.

    Barnhart, A. S. & Goldinger, S. D. (2014). Blinded by magic: Eye-movements reveal the misdirection of attention. Frontiers in Psychology: Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 5, 1461.

    Barnhart, A. S. & Goldinger, S. D. (2013). Rotation reveals the importance of configural cues in handwritten word perception. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20, 1319-1326.

    Barnhart, A. S. (2010). The exploitation of Gestalt principles by magicians. Perception, 39, 1286-1289.

    Barnhart, A. S. & Goldinger, S. D. (2010). Interpreting chicken-scratch: Lexical access for handwritten words. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 36, 906-923.

    Curriculum Vitae

    Selected Conference Presentations:

    Barnhart, A. S. (2021, April). Handwriting highlights the dynamic processes that underlie reading. Talk presented at the virtual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

    Barnhart, A. S., Cameron, E. L., & Robbins, A. (2020, February). Workshop Wednesdays: Sensation & Perception demonstrations for grounding abstract principles and enhancing quantitative reasoning. Talk presented at the annual Midwestern Institute for Students and Teachers of Psychology at the College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

    Barnhart, A. S. (2019, July). Magic in the classroom: Fooling students into thinking critically. Workshop presented at the biennial meeting of the Science of Magic Association in Chicago, IL.

    Barnhart, A. S., Cameron, E. L., Munk, D., Robbins, A., & Sylaska, K. (2019, February). The benefits of team-teaching Introduction to Psychological Science. Talk presented at the Midwest Institute for Students and Teachers of Psychology at the College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

    Barnhart, A. S. (2017, August). Tracking the ‘off-beat’: Magical contributions to the study of temporal attention. Talk presented at the meeting of the Science of Magic Association in London, U.K.

    Selected Invited Presentations:

    Barnhart, A. S. (2021, May). Magic in the lab: Psychological insights from magicians. “Evening with Psychology #3” Scientific Symposium, Jan Dlugosz University, Częstochowa, Poland. 

    Barnhart, A. S. (2020, August). Magic in the lab: Psychological insights from magicians. Keynote address for the American Psychological Association Convention, held online. 

    Barnhart, A. S. (2020, March). Do you believe in magic? The causes and correlates of magical thinking. University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, NE.

    Barnhart, A. S. (2019, October). Gestalt magic: The exploitation of perceptual hypotheses. Augustana College, Rock Island, IL.

    Barnhart, A. S. (2017, July). Magic in mind: Viewing psychology through the lens of performance magic. Vancouver International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology, Vancouver, B.C.

    Barnhart, A. S. (2014, November). Blinded by the magic: Understanding attention and perception through the methods of magicians. Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, RI.

    Selected Media Appearances:

    Hunley, E. (2021, March). Anthony Barnhart Teaches Magic and Psychology. [Livestream interview] YouTube.

    Berg, G. (2021, March). Carthage Professor Dr. Anthony Barnhart on Handwriting and Magic. [Radio broadcast] The Morning Show, WGTD Radio, Kenosha, WI.

    Fillo, A. (2019, July). Poof! Science reveals how easily a magician can fool you. PBS NOVA.

    Baker, D. (2019, March). Magic is helping to unlock the mysteries of the human brain. WIRED, U.K.

    The Nature of Things: The Science of Magic (2018, March). Television documentary aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Company.

    Armstrong, J. (2018, January). Make student engagement appear from thin air. The Neuro Transmission Podcast.

    Wells, S. (2015, October). The science of magic with Tony Barnhart, Ph.D. The Magic Word Podcast.

    Terra X: Houdini – Spiel mit dem Tod (2014, October). Television documentary aired on Germany’s ZDF network.

    Hack My Brain: Think Fast (2014, September). “Mindful Media” television documentary aired on the Discovery Science Channel.

    Redesign My Brain: Make Me Smarter (2013, October). “Mindful Media” television documentary aired on Australia’s ABC1 network.

    Automatic Brain: The Magic of the Unconscious (2011, December). “colourFIELD Tell-A-Vision” documentary aired in Sweden, Ireland, Finland, Greece, Switzerland, & Cyprus and on United Airlines flights in the United States.

    Zanor, C. (2013, September). Why cursive is hard to read. The Boston Globe.