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The Performance Cortex: How Neuroscience Is Redefining Athletic Genius

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  197 ratings  ·  22 reviews
"A must-read for the cerebral sports 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 actual
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Dutton Books
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Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Not groundbreaking, but interesting and easy to read. Research on the subject and our understanding of athletic performance are still very much in their infancy, but the hope is that books like this will spark future interest. The ending feels abrupt and unrelated to the heading of the last chapter (perhaps more appropriate as an epilogue). Finally, it would have been nice to have a proper conclusion (somewhat lacking as is), bringing the whole book together and hinting at (or at least asking) w ...more
john h herman
May 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book doesn’t deliver what it promises.

The book starts off well explaining some basic concepts of neuroscience. It describes some aspects of brain imaging and EEG relative to performance and motor tasks. But then the book seems to get lost to tell me more about neuroscience that seems Irrelevant. It Never comes back to its main premise to explain the performance cortex.
Steve Nolan
Jun 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
The subtitle is pretty misleading! The book's mostly just a summary of neuroscience research that sometimes espouses on how that might impact sports, someday. Book seems just a teensy bit too early to really say anything. There were also a lot of really weird phrasing tics? Idk it was prolly a 2 but I'm just being mean.
Kenneth J. Meier
Jul 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not a sports book

This is a long tedious book on neurology with only brief links to sports. Long historical chapters in the field and very few applications to performance and sports . A total waste of money.
Allen Adams
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing

What is it that truly defines athletic genius?

While there’s no doubt that physique and physicality play massive roles in what makes a successful athlete, there’s more to it than that. True sporting greatness springs from not just one’s body, but also that body’s connection with the brain.

In his new book “The Performance Cortex: How Neuroscience is Redefining Athletic Genius,” Zach Schonbrun attempts to explore that connection; it’s a deep dive into the neu
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: publisher-arc
Hitting a baseball has often been called the hardest thing in sports. When you're talking about professional baseball, the batter has milliseconds to take in the information about the placement and type of pitch that's coming at him, make a judgment on if the pitch is hittable, assess the probabilities of the success of the hit, and make the movements necessary to connect with the ball. It's an unbelievably complex process, and yet you can see hundreds of examples in any major league baseball ga ...more
Viviane Crystal
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Many years ago, I recall reading an article about how Tiger Woods learned to golf so well by the scientific methods taught to him by his father. Curious, I never pursued that interesting fact, but it came to mind again with this book about the brain and athletic performance. The brain can be trained for athletic performance up to a certain age, exemplified by the author’s reference to Michael Jordan who had an interest in baseball but couldn’t grow in the required skills and yet had what was nee ...more
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biology
This is an interesting mashup of the history of neuroscience and efforts to use neuroscience to improve training and scouting in sports, with an emphasis on baseball. Both topics are of interest to me, but the book jumps around a fair bit. Sports are the basis for a lot of the questions the author asks, and he talks about what some companies or researchers are doing to try to answer those questions. However, it seems like he ran into a wall in terms of access, because we often never really hear ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I like to read books outside my comfort zone, and this was certainly one of them. Very interesting to see how little we know about the brain, but I will say that the author does a poor job of tying together what we do know to paint a picture of where neuroscience is headed (or even where it stands now). There was extensive coverage of past theories and where they failed, and it seemed that the point was to emphasize the idea that we see "on the shoulders of giants". It might be a failing of the ...more
My appreciation of athletic genius has tripled, quadrupled, or more after reading The Performance Cortex: How Neuroscience Is Redefining Athletic Genius. Much more than hand-eye coordination or muscle strength or even a passion for the game, genius takes on many other elements of the human body/brain gifts given. The brain is an amazing part of the athletic genius in greats like Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, or Lionel Messi.

The book focuses in part on neuroscientists, Jordan Muraskin and Jason She
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
It appears that there are applications in sports that measure performance, decision-making, and physical responses in milliseconds. There also appears to be a growing body on knowledge and scientific research that can potentially shave off milliseconds in performance and enhance the overall outcome.
I enjoyed the book and the research that went into it. Minor criticism was that a portion of the last third of the book read like a reading list for a neuroscience class. But the book ended on a high
Christina Dudley
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some very interesting bits and some very technical bits. It was a nice change to read a brain book that was about motion instead of cognition, and one that filled you with amazement at what we're actually able to do, and how miraculous it all is.

Despite the title, it's not just about "redefining athletic genius," though there is a fair amount about hitting baseballs and a baseball startup trying to gauge pitch recognition time and whether or not to swing.

A good read for those considering going i
David Meyer
Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked the concept and through parts of the book, it works nicely. At other times, it feels like reading a complicated textbook, as the author gets caught up in jargon that they should probably explain more clearly to any laypeople reading the book. It's definitely changed my thought process when watching baseball, and has me truly amazed that anyone in the world can regularly hit a baseball thrown by professional pitchers.
Danny Knobler
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Great work by my friend Zach. He gets a little heavy into the science, so if that’s not your thing you may not love it. But he has still come up with a fascinating book on a topic that is only likely to become more important in sports. Teams are looking to train the brain along with the muscles. You can bet they also want to evaluate brains along with every physical skill.
Dan Watts
Jun 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Proof that you can't judge a book by its cover: this one actually has little to do with sports. The majority of the book is about research into neuroscience, stretching back to the 19th century. It occasionally circles back to attempts made by a couple of companies to measure and improve the neural system's response time, but it wouldn't seem that they've made much headway.
Tommy Shavers
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Good Read.

A really good read that takes you on an interesting journey about the brain from the perspective of human performance and movement.

The people stories, progress of the science, and the applications to human performance were interwoven very well throughout.

Worth the read.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book discusses the many applications of neuroscience in sports. I also appreciated the skepticism discussed in the book that analyzes the construct validity and external validity of these methods.
Feb 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
90% literature/history review, 10% actual application to baseball
Warren Dunham
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
a fascinating telling of of how recent new info on motor movement on the brain has been u6tilized to help base ball. Ok maybe i just love this sort of thing
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: knowledge
As a Chiropractor (knowing the brain and spine controls movement) and a huge sports fan, this is a fascinating read with some interesting sports examples.
(Dragged on a bit though)
Cliff Jennings
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Performance Cortex is very good at making a difficult topic understandable to almost any audience. While the topic deals with groundbreaking technology for sports mostly it also educates the reader about human behavior and what can and can't be modified. I also shows that certain qualities that athletes have when referred to as "he has that very rare feel for … that can't be taught" is indeed quantifiable . While innate talent is just that, the components can be taken apart, analyzed, and ta ...more
Danielle Frazier
rated it really liked it
Sep 18, 2018
Sean Post
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Jun 26, 2018
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Jul 02, 2019
Dustin Cichosz
rated it really liked it
Mar 31, 2019
Alisha Goodman
rated it liked it
Aug 04, 2019
Shishir Shroff
rated it it was amazing
Nov 07, 2018
Andrew Barnes
rated it really liked it
Jun 04, 2020
Frank Ortiz
rated it it was ok
Aug 14, 2018
Michael Dolan
rated it liked it
Jan 10, 2019
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