The Performance Cortex: How Neuroscience Is Redefining Athletic Genius

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Penguin, Apr 9, 2019 - Science - 352 pages
"A must-read for the cerebral sports fan . . . like Moneyball except nerdier. Much nerdier."
--Sports Illustrated


Why couldn't Michael Jordan, master athlete that he was, crush a baseball? Why can't modern robotics come close to replicating the dexterity of a five-year-old? Why do great quarterbacks always seem to know where their receivers are?

On a quest to discover what actually drives human movement and its spectacular potential, journalist, sports writer, and fan Zach Schonbrun interviewed experts on motor control around the world. The trail begins with the groundbreaking work of two neuroscientists in Major League Baseball who are upending the traditional ways scouts evaluate the speed with which great players read a pitch. Across all sports, new theories and revolutionary technology are revealing how the brain's motor control system works in extraordinarily talented athletes like Stephen Curry, Tom Brady, Serena Williams, and Lionel Messi; as well as musical virtuosos, dancers, rock climbers, race-car drivers, and more.

Whether it is timing a 95 mph fastball or reaching for a coffee mug, movement requires a complex suite of computations that many take for granted--until they read The Performance Cortex. Zach Schonbrun ushers in a new way of thinking about the athletic gifts we marvel over and seek to develop in our own lives. It's not about the million-dollar arm anymore. It's about the million-dollar brain.
 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
DECERV0
7
THE MOVEMENT CHAUWINIST
47
THE MOTOR HUNTER
77
FROM MIND TO MUSCLE
119
THE NEUROTECH SPACE
153
SEARCHING FOR THE MOTOR ENGRAM
187
EMBODIED EXPERTISE
225
THE BODY IN SPACE
259
A PARALYZED MAN WHO MOVED
293
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
317
INDEX
331
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

Zach Schonbrun has been a contributing writer for the New York Times since 2011, covering primarily sports and business. His work has also appeared in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, ESPN magazine, Newsday, Fast Company, the Washington Post, Yahoo! Sports, VICE, and SB Nation Longform. He is the author of One Great Shoe, which was selected as one of the best Kindle Singles of the year in 2015. He lives in New York City with his wife and their son.

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