Feb 17, 2014, 5:08 PM EST
This is fun. Some neuroscience researchers at UC Riverside had the UCR Highlanders baseball team take part in an experiment aimed at sharpening the way their visual cortex processes stimuli. Specifically, they looked at patterns on cards called Gabor patches, designed to increase vision and perception. The results were dramatic. From the research abstract, published in Current Biology:
We applied this training program to the University of California Riverside (UCR) Baseball Team and assessed benefits using standard eye-charts and batting statistics. Trained players showed improved vision after training, had decreased strike-outs, and created more runs; and even accounting for maturational gains, these additional runs may have led to an additional four to five team wins. These results demonstrate real world transferable benefits of a vision-training program based on perceptual learning principles.
The study is explained more generally at the L.A. Times.
The big caveat to all of this: the measurement of how much the team improved was based on sabermetric analysis of the team’s performance compared to performance from the previous year, with researchers finding that “the Highlanders’ improvements exceeded what would be expected from simply maturing and playing additional games.” My suspicion is that variation and uncertainty in any projection/prediction of how a baseball team does — especially a college team, which has way less of a body of data behind it than big league teams — is pretty great. Maybe there was marked and significant improvement. But how much is probably extremely wide open given how inexact a science baseball projections represent compared to your average neurological research data.
Still: intriguing. If time with some pattern recognition exercises is truly effective, might time in the batting cage be cut a few minutes each day?
- The Cubs have offered Jon Lester “north of $135 million” 16
- UPDATE: The Pablo Sandoval-Red Sox deal is done, pending a physical 133
- Kyle Seager, Mariners close to $100 million extension 25
- The 2015 Hall of Fame ballot is out — Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez are new on the ballot 285
- So what would the Red Sox look like with Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval? 49
- UPDATE: Red Sox finalizing a 4-year, $88 million deal with Hanley Ramirez, with a vesting option 35
- MLB players react to Odell Beckham, Jr. catch on Sunday Night Football 27
- Report: Red Sox make $95 million offer to Pablo Sandoval 77
- The 2015 Hall of Fame ballot is out — Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez are new on the ballot (285)
- Giancarlo Stanton’s contract is backloaded. REALLY backloaded. (148)
- UPDATE: The Pablo Sandoval-Red Sox deal is done, pending a physical (133)
- Report: “There is a 90 percent chance that Pablo Sandoval will sign with the Red Sox” (130)
- Sexual assualt charges reinstated against Tigers pitcher Evan Reed (129)