Navigation Links
Chicago neuroscientist contributes to book on brains and baseball
Date:3/11/2008

Steven Small, professor of neurology and psychology at the University of Chicago, and colleagues Ana Solodkin and John Milton, are among a group science writers and neuroscientists featured in Your Brain On Cubs: Inside the Heads of Players and Fans, a new book that explores how the brain functions when people participate in sports as athletes, coaches and fans.

Using baseball as the quintessential sport for all three perspectives, the contributors tackle such questions as: How does a player hit a 90-mile-per-hour fastball when he barely has time to visually register it" Why do fans remain devotedly loyal year after year" And what allows them to believe in superstitions, such as a curse"

Other topics investigated in the book include how a ballplayer's brain changes as he gains experience and expertise, why there are a higher percentage of left-handers in the major leagues compared to the general population, and the ethical implications of neurological performance enhancement.

Small's contribution, "Why Did Casey Strike Out: The Neuroscience of Hitting," focuses on the batter-pitcher match-up from the point of view of the neural networks that control if, when and how the batter swings the bat.

"If the ball leaves the pitcher's hand at 100 miles per hour," Small said, "it will take it 0.367 seconds to reach home plate--less than the time between successive heart beats. For elite batters, such as the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano, such extraordinary skill can only be accomplished by figuring out what the pitcher will do before he even releases the ball."

Small, an expert on the brain imaging of human behavior, uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study how the brain of professional athletes plans complex movements, such as swinging a baseball bat. With fMRI, researchers can peer into the brain while an athlete focuses on a video of a real situation, such as a pitcher preparing (e.g., winding up, gripping the ball and then releasing the pitch. The scanner can identify the various parts of the brain that activate as the batter prepares his swing.

In several related studies, Small has found patterns that are common as people learn a new task and then slowly master that skill through practice. Based on this research, it would be expected for a novice baseball player to have more brain activation when preparing to swing a bat than an expert. Experts require less brain power because their brains become more efficient at that task as they gain proficiency.

Professional athletes, he found, activate only the regions of the brain that are critical to a precise activity, such as swinging the bat. The novice, on the other hand, has to activate several other regions, some tangentially connected to the movement and others linked to the neural foundation of emotion.

"When doing something for the first time," Small said, "there is a lower ability to concentrate and greater involvement of emotion than after gaining expertise. Adding these factors to the brain's neural programming, makes it more complex and therefore less efficient."

Although emotions such as fear and anxiety are profoundly familiar to Cubs fans, the pervasive role of the brain in playing and watching baseball may be less apparent. Yet the "very existence of such a thing as sports fandom grows out of the way the brain works," notes Dan Gordon, editor of Your Brain on Cubs.

Gordon asked Small and colleagues to write about their brain research "because it had applications to baseball," he explained. "As a life-long Cubs fans, I also wanted to include a contributor from Chicago, although the University of Chicago is located in White Sox territory."


'/>"/>

Contact: John Easton
john.easton@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Childrens Memorial Hospital in Chicago Announces $100 Million Gift from Philanthropist Ann Lurie
2. Mega Events in September, Including Chicago Event This Sat./Sun., Allow Heart Health Campaign to Reach Tens of Thousands of Hispanics During Cholesterol Awareness Month
3. Chicagoland Psoriasis Event Saturday Will Celebrate First National Short Sleeve Day
4. Randolph Equities to Break Ground on State of the Art Medical Center in Space Starved Near West Chicago Suburbs
5. Leaders in Pathology Meet in Chicago: Sept. 30 - Oct. 3, 2007
6. Volkswagen Continues Sponsorship of the Lasalle Bank Chicago Marathon
7. Corporate Fitness Show to Debut in Chicago October 10-13
8. Rosecrance and Chicagos Department of Environment Collaborate to Help Families Dispose of Unwanted Medicines and Drugs
9. Entrepreneur and TV Personality Bill Rancic to Host Mens Health Chicago Urbanathlon on October 20, 2007
10. Research!America Honors Univ. of Chicago Economists for Study Showing Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS Drug Development
11. CRH Medical Corporation opens second clinic in Chicago
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Chicago neuroscientist contributes to book on brains and baseball
(Date:2/24/2017)... Prior Lake MN (PRWEB) , ... February 24, ... ... the launch of its newly designed TaskMate Go. Core benefits and advantages built ... grain finish and a stylish, functional look and feel. Ability to gain the ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... ... February 24, 2017 , ... Dr. Ronald E. ... announced the appointment of Peter A. Bell, DO, MBA, HPF, FACOEP-dist., FACEP, as ... beginning April 10. Dr. Bell comes to Liberty from the Ohio University Heritage ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... , ... February 24, 2017 , ... The narrative in ... Erik Schanssema ’s true account of his paramedic experiences. Schanssema describes the tragedies ... and his attempts to overcome them. , Schanssema, initially unsure of the career ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... ... February 24, 2017 , ... Indiana Fiber Network (IFN) President and CEO ... year. Dyer started as the Chairman of the Management Committee when IFN was ... corporation including the recruitment of investor/owners and development of the business plan. He ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... Austin, TX (PRWEB) , ... February 23, 2017 ... ... has announced an official 2017 partnership with The Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin. ... UVA and UVB rays with Thinksport’s broad-spectrum, mineral-based sunscreen. , “We are thrilled ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/24/2017)...  This report analyzes the worldwide markets for Chiral ... Products: Intermediates, Analytical, and Others. The End Use ... Agrochemicals. The report provides separate comprehensive analytics for the ... , and Rest of World. Annual estimates and ... Also, a six-year historic analysis is provided for these ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... 2016" report to their offering. ... The latest research Urinary Incontinence Drugs Price ... in the global Urinary Incontinence market. The research answers the ... drugs marketed for Urinary Incontinence and their clinical attributes? How are ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... , Feb. 23, 2017  Cogentix Medical, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... markets innovative proprietary products for the urology market, will ... year ended December 31, 2016 before the market open ... Company will host a conference call and webcast to ... March 9, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time (10:00 ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: