The Performance Cortex (Hardcover)

How Neuroscience Is Redefining Athletic Genius

By Zach Schonbrun

Dutton, 9781101986332, 352pp.

Publication Date: April 17, 2018

List Price: 28.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

“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 good 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 extraordinary 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.


About the Author

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 BusinessWeekESPN 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.


Praise For The Performance Cortex: How Neuroscience Is Redefining Athletic Genius

Advance Praise for The Performance Cortex

“A must-read for the cerebral sports fan . . . like Moneyball except nerdier. Much nerdier.” 
Sports Illustrated

Axios’ 2018 Leadoff Beach Read

“Fans of sport science, sport psychology, robotics, and neuroscience will find this to be informative and inspiring.”
—Library Journal

“A revealing tour of the minds of winning athletes . . . Readers interested in the applications of neuroscience to everyday life will find plenty of value here.” 
—Kirkus Reviews


“Poised to guide the sophisticated sports fan in such examination, Schonbrun lucidly explains the fascinating new world of neuroathletics. . . . The stereotype of the dumb jock may not survive this explosive jolt!”
—Booklist

“One of the most intriguing aspects of elite sports is that the athletes themselves have no idea how they do much of what they do, because it occurs beneath their conscious awareness. Schonbrun’s deep dive into the cutting-edge science of human movement gives the reader X-ray vision (or, really, fMRI vision) into the brains of the world’s greatest performers. It will enthrall anyone who has watched a sporting event and asked: How do they do that?”
—David Epstein, author of the New York Times bestseller The Sports Gene

“To use a voguish sports catchphrase, The Performance Cortex is ‘next level.’ We’ve heard a lot about ‘mental toughness’ and ‘hard-wiring for success,’ but now Zach Schonbrun reveals the latest science on how elite athletic feats are actually accomplished. Fans will understand the genius behind all sports more clearly after reading this book. And they can, with pleasure. Schonbrun has mastered the art of writing gracefully about dense—and potential groundbreaking—material.”  
—L. Jon Wertheim, executive editor of Sports Illustrated and coauthor of This is Your Brain on Sports and Scorecasting
 
“Zach Schonbrun’s The Performance Cortex is full of insight into the next wave of athletic training, the relationship between the mind and the body, and the cutting-edge neuroscience that seeks to explore and exploit this interaction to create better athletes. This accessible account will leave every reader wishing they had known all this before.”
—Glenn Stout, author and series coeditor of The Best American Sports Writing

“The brain is the last untapped resource for athletes, the final frontier for sports analytics. Zach Schonbrun’s riveting look inside of how players’ minds truly work and how that knowledge is being used to reimagine the games we play, fires with the efficiency and efficacy of a synapse.”
—Jeff Passan, national baseball columnist for Yahoo! Sports and author of the New York Times bestseller The Arm