Saturday, July 26, 2008

Losing Sucks

To any WSB readers curious, a bit of a detour into experimental science. Why? Because think about it, as soon as they figure out how to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to weed out players fated to wash out at the professional level, every Major League franchise will insist on a pre-contract scan and the Yankees will buy a machine and keep it next to the trainers office.

Does Practice Make Perfect In Sports? One of the themes from this study is that, indeed, learning a motor skill takes place in the brain. This may seem like an obvious statement, but its important to accept that the movements that our limbs make when performing a skill are controlled by the instructions provided from the brain. So, what happens when the skill breaks down? …

Over repeated trials, changes in reach speed were associated with changes in pre-movement activity. So, instead of perfectly consistent reach times by the monkeys, they saw variation, like we might see when trying to throw strikes with a baseball many times in a row. Their conclusion was that this planning activity in the brain does have an effect on the outcome of the activity. Previously, research had focused only on breakdowns during the actual move and in the mechanics of muscles. This study shows that the origin of the error may start earlier.

As electrical engineering Assistant Professor Krishna Shenoy stated, "the main reason you can't move the same way each and every time, such as swinging a golf club, is that your brain can't plan the swing the same way each time." Postdoctoral researcher and co-author Mark Churchland added, "The nervous system was not designed to do the same thing over and over again. The nervous system was designed to be flexible.

Yes, monkey experiments, because real science experiments on monkeys unlike false science that simply programs computers to generate fake pictures of the North Pole melting. It is a head game. Question: If Kendall can’t hit better than Estrada, then who catches next year?

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