NYTwimbledon

NYTwimbledon - Subconsciously, Athletes May Play Like...

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Subconsciously, Athletes May Play Like Statisticians Personalize your news NYTimes: Home - Site Index - Archive - Help Welcome, johnwooders - Member Center - Log Out Site Search: NYTimes.com > Health Agence France-Presse A new study suggests that under some conditions, athletes like Cédric Pioline. \A new study suggests that under some conditions, athletes like Cédric Pioline draw on their subconscious memories more than on what they see, an example of Bayesian analysis. ARTICLE TOOLS E-Mail This Article Printer-Friendly Format Most E-Mailed Articles Single-Page Format Subconsciously, Athletes May Play Like Statisticians By DAVID LEONHARDT Published: January 20, 2004 hen Justine Henin-Hardenne rips a cross-court forehand at the Australian Open or Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, dodges an onrushing defender, each looks like the very definition of living in the moment. Like other great athletes, they often appear to rely on speed, strength and lightning-fast reactions. Advertisement There seems to be little time for highly advanced quantitative analysis that weighs current observations against past experiences to suggest a plan of attack. But this kind of analysis is precisely what the human brain does when facing a physical challenge, according to a study by two European scientists published in the current issue of Nature. The more uncertainty that people face — be it caused by wind on a tennis court, snow on a football field or darkness on a country highway — the more they make decisions based on their subconscious memory and the less they depend on what they see. Among researchers, the combining of new information with conventional wisdom is known as Bayesian analysis, and it has become increasingly popular in recent years. Once controversial, because it muddies supposedly pure scientific data with subjective opinion about which prior research is relevant to a particular study, it has gained adherents as the explosion of computing power has allowed the method's complex formulas to be performed on a basic laptop computer. With the encouragement of the Food and Drug Administration, medical-device makers use the method to test new devices that are only slightly different from their predecessors. Computer companies use Bayesian methods to build spam filters for e-mail, said Dr. Michael Lynch, the chief http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/20/health/20TENN.html (1 of 3) [1/19/2004 4:21:23 PM]
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Subconsciously, Athletes May Play Like Statisticians TIMES NEWS TRACKER Topics Alerts Athletics and Sports
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NYTwimbledon - Subconsciously, Athletes May Play Like...

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