Why Athletes Are Geniuses
Neuroscientists have found several ways in which the brains of top-notch athletes seem to function better than those of regular folks.
by Carl Zimmer
From the April 2010 issue; published online April 16, 2010
The qualities that set a great athlete apart from the rest of us lie not just in the muscles and the lungs but also between the ears. That’s because athletes need to make complicated decisions in a flash. One of the most spectacular examples of the athletic brain operating at top speed came in 2001, when the Yankees were in an American League playoff game with the Oakland Athletics. Shortstop Derek Jeter managed to grab an errant throw coming in from right field and then gently tossed the ball to catcher Jorge Posada, who tagged the base runner at home plate. Jeter’s quick decision saved the game—and the series—for the Yankees. To make the play, Jeter had to master both conscious decisions, such as whether to intercept the throw, and unconscious ones. These are the kinds of unthinking thoughts he must make in every second of every game: how much weight to put on a foot, how fast to rotate his wrist as he releases a ball, and so on.
In recent years neuroscientists have begun to catalog some fascinating differences between average brains and the brains of great athletes. By understanding what goes on in athletic heads, researchers hope to understand more about the workings of all brains—those of sports legends and couch potatoes alike.
Posted in Amazing, body, Books & Articles
Tagged basketball, battery enhancement, brain, cheating, cricket, derek jeter, discover magazine, genius, Krakauer and Celnik’s study, neuroscience, problem soving, science, smart athletes, sports
Animals Said to Have Spiritual Experiences
Ever have an out-of-body experience? Your dog may have too.
By Jennifer Viegas
Fri Oct 8, 2010 07:00 AM ET
Animals (not just people) likely have spiritual experiences, according to a prominent neurologist who has analyzed the processes of spiritual sensation for over three decades.
Research suggests that spiritual experiences originate deep within primitive areas of the human brain — areas shared by other animals with brain structures like our own.
The trick, of course, lies in proving animals’ experiences.
“Since only humans are capable of language that can communicate the richness of spiritual experience, it is unlikely we will ever know with certainty what an animal subjectively experiences,” Kevin Nelson, a professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky, told Discovery News.
“Despite this limitation, it is still reasonable to conclude that since the most primitive areas of our brain happen to be the spiritual, then we can expect that animals are also capable of spiritual experiences,” added Nelson, author of the book “The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain,” which will be published in January 2011.
continue reading at Discovery News
Posted in Amazing, Books & Articles
Tagged animals, brain, discovery news, dogs, jennifer viegas, kevin nelson, neurology, out-of-body experience, spiritual experiences, the spiritual doorway in the brain
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Though studies have shown ingrained habits can’t be completely unlearned, training the mind to control ingrained behavior is within our reach.
Maybe you chew your fingernails when you’re nervous. Or scarf down chocolate when you’re sad. Or take home a stray kitty whenever you see one, until the SPCA has to come rescue them all and have you arrested for being a hoarder.
Chances are, you have a few habits you wish you didn’t have, and quite possibly you’ve tried (and tried and tried) to break them. Scientists are learning why you may have failed (and failed and failed). In fact, they now know that once you have a habit, you can never really unlearn it. more