Some of my favorite books are written by journalists, and Zach Shonbrun's The Performance Cortex has risen to the top of that pile. This book has all the nuance and joy of listening to a top-tier sports caster mixed with the clever juxtaposition of rich, lively characters, all through the lens of a researcher who has devoured a body of knowledge so thoroughly that he can talk about it with summer-afternoon ease. For anyone who uses their bodies and brains professionally, this book needs to be on your shelf within reaching distance. Schonbrun creates new opportunities for practitioners to appreciate motor learning within the context of a century-and-a-half history of motor-learning neuroscience. At the heart of the book lies an exploration of how the brain accomplishes the incredibly difficult task of hitting a 100MPH fast ball. One can assume that the motor coordinations found in specialized singing are nearly, if not more, difficult. Through his approach, Schonbrun opens doors for new questions for all kinds of motor learning in ways that sometimes only powerful story telling can. He also aptly provides predictions for the future of motor learning that is all but here in the present for those who would see it. As an added bonus, the book is about baseball (and basketball, and football, etc.), so sports nuts will dive in and come out with a new-found love of neuroscience. If you're not a sports fan, you might just become one when you are finished with this book, and at least, you'll appreciate the brain and body in new, enlightened, exciting ways.
The performance cortex
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