One of the more intriguing talks given at the recent MIT Sports Analytics conference was by Wesley Clapp and Brian Miller, two neuroscience Ph.D.’s who have founded a new company called Neuroscouting. The company describes itself as “led by a team of neuroscientists committed to advancing our understanding of the neural basis of elite athletic ability. Through their research with professional athletes, the Neuroscouting team is paving new roads in diagnostics and training in the world of sports.”
They do a great job of describing some of the big advances that have been made in neuroscience research around the perception-action cycle, learning and memory, brain plasticity, and information processing, all while tying them back to a sporting context. It will be very interesting to see what Neuroscouting develops as they progress.
As always, it’s interesting to get the perspective of media sources that are viewing the sports/neuroscience scene from a greater distance. Timothy Varner at ESPN’s 48 Minutes of Hell blog picked up on Neuroscouting’s presentation and it sent him into imagining a dystopian vision of the singularity, people living to be 1,000 years old, and the end of human athletics:
it means the end of human athletics, at least as we now define ‘human’. It could potentially mean the beginning of cyborganic athletics, which is spooky-scary from where I sit. The possibilities extend beyond comprehension. I’m not trying to predict those things. The point of this post is to suggest where the Sloan conversation is going.
Whatever Varner might be wrong about, he is definitely right about one thing, which is that “Sloan isn’t really about the sports analytics so much as it is about the future of sports.”