a baseball in the grass

Neuro Scout

Quoting the inimitable Yogi Berra “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical,” Larry Greenemeier over at Scientific American brought to my attention a new technology being developed at the Columbia University Laboratory for Intelligent Imaging and Neural Computing called the NeuroScout.

Batters facing professional or collegiate pitching must make extremely quick perceptual decisions—a pitch takes only about 600 milliseconds to cross home plate after the pitcher releases it.

Combining EEG, fMRI, and some innovative software, they are looking into the split second perceptual abilities of baseball players to recognize a pitch and whether or not to swing. The baseball fans out there will know that at 100 mph, a baseball travels the 60 feet from pitcher’s mound to home plate pretty durned fast. a few milliseconds of added reaction time can make the difference between an average and a hall of fame batter (PEDs aside).

They go into a number of practical applications that will be familiar to HF/E pros. Selecting players who are naturally faster, focused training to improve the reaction time, identifying the brain areas that explain differences (some augcog potential there), identifying better diagnostic features that help players differentiate a fastball from a curve. The possibilities are as endless as they are intriguing.

Image credit: “Baseball” by Matt McGee used under CC BY-ND 2.0

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