Magician studying to become a brain surgeon: ‘It’s all in the head,’ says Matthew Aaron Go

'There is an interesting connection between Neuroscience and magic.'

‘There is an interesting connection between Neuroscience and magic.’

By Cristina DC Pastor

How does one go from manipulating the brain to studying it in college?

Magician Matthew Aaron Go did not realize the connection at first until he majored in Neuroscience at NYU and began to study the brain, this walnut-shaped organ powerful enough to mobilize all senses of the body.

“There is an interesting connection,” Matthew, 22, explained to The FilAm in an interview. “Neuroscience is the study of brain, how it works and how it controls our thoughts. Magic uses the brain and human thoughts to distract your attention. It’s all in the head.”

Matthew is currently a senior student taking up additional courses in Pre-Med Chemistry and Psychology. He is looking to become a brain surgeon.

Magic got him preoccupied as a young boy of about 10 years old. He remembered going on a family trip to Las Vegas and while there watched a magician perform. His father later got him a magician’s starter kit with cards and coins, and he began practicing when he got home.

As a young boy growing up in Queens, he started performing in front of his family, and liked how they got all twisted trying to figure out how he guessed the right card or created a fire from his bare hands. In time, he began dazzling relatives and friends with more advanced pranks.

“I really liked the reaction I got,” confessed Matthew. “I like making people think and wonder.”

“I was a really shy kid,” he told Makilala TV talk show where he did a guest appearance. The performance aspect of magic drew him out of his shell.

In high school he got busy and didn’t touch magic for years. He went back to it in college and realized it’s a skill one does not easily forget. As a matter of fact, it was magic that won him last year’s Mr. Philippines talent competition sponsored by the International Filipino Association at NYU.

Matthew appearing at Makilala TV talk show. Photo by Ronnie Ocampo Jr.

Matthew appearing at Makilala TV talk show. Photo by Ronnie Ocampo Jr.

He made quite an impression with two acts: In one, he transformed a paper rose into a real rose and then set it on flame. In another, he was strapped to a chair and covered with a blanket. When the blanket was removed, someone else was tied to the chair and Matthew was seen standing on the balcony of the auditorium.

At a recent PARE with Benefits charity show at St. John’s University’s, he used a bow and arrow to find a spectator’s card. It was some distance, but his arrow was able to hit the card on target.

“I prefer to make my own tricks,” he said. “With magic, you can create whatever you want.”

His parents – Matthew’s father is Chinese who grew up in the Philippines; his Filipino mother comes from Bataan — are very supportive. They have come around to the idea that for their younger son, magic is not just a phase. It’s not going to be a profession either because this affable young man who loves fashion and languages has serious aspirations of becoming a brain surgeon. (Matthew has an older brother who is into arts and illustration).

“I’m applying to medical schools right now,” he said. “I want to be a doctor. I want to perform surgery.”

Matthew has a show coming up on April 3 at the NYU Night Market, sponsored by the Taiwanese Students Association.

“Magic is not what it used to be,” mused Matthew.

Back in the day, the act was more profitable, until technology took away some of the intricate charm of creating special effects to the point that the audience would rather just watch them on screen. But the magician will always remain a “cool” person, he said.

So when will he start sawing human bodies and putting them back together?

Matthew gave out a loud laugh. “I really want to do that but it takes a lot of work, time and money to build the props.”

His bow-and-arrow act at St. John's University. Photo by Michael Li

His bow-and-arrow act at St. John’s University. Photo by Michael Li

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