Tests reveal 'hit and miss' brain

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MikeK
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Tests reveal 'hit and miss' brain

Post by MikeK »

Hmmmmmm...
BBC NEWS
Tests reveal 'hit and miss' brain
Sportsmen trying to perfect that tee shot, or wicket-taking delivery have a new excuse for slices and wides - their own brains.

Stanford University research suggests we are not capable of repeating exactly the same movement over and over again.

The Neuron study found monkeys trained to repeat simple movements produced slight variations every time.

The experts said training can improve the way the brain controls the muscles, but practice will never make perfect.

The nervous system was not designed to do the same thing over and over again
Mark Churchland, Stanford University

The Stanford team persuaded their monkeys to perform a reaching task - when they showed them a green spot, reaching slowly to touch it would produce a reward, but when a red spot was shown, reaching quickly was the route to success.

As the monkeys repeated the tasks thousands of times, not only were their movements analysed, but activity in the parts of the brain governing movement was recorded too.

They found that there were always subtle differences in a monkey's speed of reach, and further analysis revealed a pattern of brain activity which corresponded with how long it took the monkey to make its move.

"This is the first study to successfully record neural activity during the planning period and link it on a trial-by-trial basis to performance during those trials," said researcher Mark Churchland.

New situations

He speculated that the brain has evolved this way in order to respond better to new situations, which are more important than the ability to perform repetitive movements accurately.

He said: "The nervous system was not designed to do the same thing over and over again.

"The nervous system was designed to be flexible. You typically find yourself doing things you've never done before."

Professor Alan Wing, who carries out research into movement neuroscience at the University of Aberystwyth, agreed.

"This might be seen as a problem by sportsman, for whom the ability to reproduce exact movements is an advantage, but for humans in general, this range of variation allows us to adapt better to new environments and situations."
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/h ... 196953.stm

Published: 2006/12/21 10:23:49 GMT

© BBC MMVII
He said: "The nervous system was not designed to do the same thing over and over again.

"The nervous system was designed to be flexible. You typically find yourself doing things you've never done before."


So if this study is right, do certain kinds of traditional karate training and ideals make us slower and less effective by trying to get us to be consistent? What do all those "sloppy" but effective karate masters know that the picture perfect ones don't?
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Bill Glasheen
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Post by Bill Glasheen »

I'm not sure you get this one, Mike.

I think people can over interpret the results. This is just a consequence of the nonlinearity of our makeup. When you have a system capable of displaying mathematical chaos behavior, then you never, ever, ever retrace your steps exactly the same way.

This reminds me of my dissertation. In it, I was trying to take a publication from Science (Cohen et al from Harvard) and bring it to the next step. They hypothesized that heart-rate rhythms as measured by Power Spectral analysis could be an indication of autonomic nervous system health. Hearts beat faster and slower due to our breathing activity and various control systems in our body (blood pressure and blood flow). It gets "cross talked" to the heart-rate via the autonomic nervous system. This is how this rhythmic activity looks in the frequency domain.

Image

The low peak is blood pressure and blood flow control system noise getting cross-talked to the heart-rate via the autonomic nervous system. The higher peak is respiration (inhale/exhale) doing the same. If you take one over that higher peak frequency, you can see what the average breathing cycle time is. In other words, 1/(.25 Hz) = 1/(.25 cycles per second) = 4 seconds per breath cycle.

Cohen and others thought perhaps we could measure the health of the autonomic nervous system in disease processes such as diabetes by measuring the magnitude of these peaks. It was a nice idea... Here's the kicker though. In his Science publication, Cohen said that these peaks were "stable" over time.

I wanted to make that diagnostic test for my dissertation. The goal was for me to build a device that measured how badly diabetes was being controlled by measuring the inability of the autonomic nervous system to carry this cross-talk traffic. You could do the measurements simply by measuring someone's electrocardiogram and performing some mathematical magic.

There was one problem. After 2 years of trying to reproduce Cohen's "stable" peaks, I found out that he... lied. They weren't stable. Quite the contrary, only SICK people or people under stress exhibited stable rhythms. Healthy people capable of responding to every little perturbation in their environment had PSD peaks that came and went and came and went... And when you think about it, that's a good thing.

Part of what makes us "human" is that we can never fully be predicted. We have "free will." We never do things quite the same way every time we do it. We are a reflection of every little hiccup around us, and it manifests itself via a response that we can never predict with 100% precision. And that, my friend, is because nonlinear mathematical systems operate that way. "Chaos" means a little perturbation can have a big effect, and vice versa. It means we never, ever retrace our steps exactly the same way. It means the flight of a butterfly in South America can affect the weather in North America next year (hence "the butterfly effect").

And that's the most interesting part of the world and people around us. 8)

From a martial arts point of view... Being hypersensitive to your environment is a good thing, right? You know what I found in my dissertation? Your ability to be hypersensitive to surroundings (have unstable PSD peaks) went down as your level of stress went up (loss of blood, exercise). The more severe the stress, the more stable the peaks, and hence the less sensitive the person was to perturbations in the environment. We want to keep our stress under control when threatened. Otherwise we start to develop "martial tunnel vision." Our ability to be aware of more than one BG at a time goes down the toilet.

From a martial arts point of view... Being not 100% predictable is a good thing, right? We never want a BG to know exactly how we will respond. We may respond similarly the second or third time he does something, but never exactly the same way. It's our salvation, when you think about it.

From the strictly "art" point of view... The fact that we never do something the same way every time is what makes art beautiful. If 5 hand-made vases looked like they all came out of the same factory mold, we wouldn't find them interesting. The "imperfections" are what makes them interesting and desirable. The fact that you never know exactly what my kata will look like each time I do it is what makes me watchable - to the extent that I MIGHT be... ;)

Jazz celebrates that. Jazz takes a structure and follows it. But it never does it the same way every time. The variation becomes a desirable component.

- Bill
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Post by MikeK »

I think I do get the point of the article Bill, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but...

Here's a part that I found interesting.
The experts said training can improve the way the brain controls the muscles, but practice will never make perfect.
How many times have we seen students freeze after doing something "wrong" even though it was mostly correct. So do some of the ideals such as having the students strive for perfect technique actually get in the way of their performance and even their learning?

Now of course the test was done on monkeys which may or may not be the best test subject.
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Post by Bill Glasheen »

It's a GOOD thing to do something literally thousands of times so that you can do those tasks under stress. It's a GOOD thing to strive for an ideal, because an ideal is where the world is perfect. A perfect technique maximizes our ability to do things.

It's unrealistic to expect perfection.

There's nothing wrong with striving for an ideal - so long as we make sure someone is able to strive for that under the conditions that you expect the technique to be performed.

"Ideal" as I see it falls within limits. It never should be exact. So in this way maybe we agree.

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Post by IJ »

I'm not sure why anyone would EXPECT exact duplication from a system as complex as a mammal. And I agree with others that it's desirable to have to variation. Kata should be modifiable to situation or else you're only going to defend against people when attacked in a spacious wooden floored space in a certain sequence. Of course we should be able to vary speed, timing, etc to test ourselves and try things out. Practice can make "perfect" it just doesn't make robotic.
--Ian
Stryke

Post by Stryke »

It's a GOOD thing to do something literally thousands of times so that you can do those tasks under stress. It's a GOOD thing to strive for an ideal, because an ideal is where the world is perfect. A perfect technique maximizes our ability to do things.

It's unrealistic to expect perfection.

There's nothing wrong with striving for an ideal - so long as we make sure someone is able to strive for that under the conditions that you expect the technique to be performed.

"Ideal" as I see it falls within limits. It never should be exact. So in this way maybe we agree.
ok if you can say whats Ideal repitition I`ll give you a cookie :lol:

variation is the most important aspect of application past the rote learning phase .

seeking regimented perfection is a noble goal , just a flawed and unrealisitc one , perfection changes , funtionality is a purer goal .

It is this striving for perfection that keeps many thinking how hard Martial arts is , and they have to seek/approach perfect for this stuff to work .

form should follow function .
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Post by MikeK »

Marcus, please get out of my head and stop channeling my thoughts. :lol:
It's a GOOD thing to do something literally thousands of times so that you can do those tasks under stress.
It depends on what those somethings are. I've seen black belts do a perfect technique that they've done at least 1,000 times, but it was the wrong response under stress. How does that happen?
Doing an oizuki in the air one thousand times makes you good at doing an oizuki in the air, doing the same darn one-steps against the same darn attack makes you good at that but not much else.
It's a GOOD thing to strive for an ideal, because an ideal is where the world is perfect. A perfect technique maximizes our ability to do things.
snip ...
It's unrealistic to expect perfection.
Bill, Is that a little bit of cognitive dissonance showing? :lol:

But the point is we still expect some strange ideals to be met. I think those ideals are nice for someone looking for self improvement, but they don't really reflect getting people up to speed in a martial art.
It is this striving for perfection that keeps many thinking how hard Martial arts is, and they have to seek/approach perfect for this stuff to work .
Well said. Odd how people can get fairly functional in Muay Thai, combatives or BJJ but karate "takes a life time" to get the basics. What do they know that we don't?
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Post by Stryke »

Hey Mike , always interesting how folks can fnd similar truths doing different things , the commonlaity being true exploration .

and If that fails , I can use Chi to read thoughts :lol:
Odd how people can get fairly functional in Muay Thai, combatives or BJJ but karate "takes a life time" to get the basics. What do they know that we don't?
How to train effectively and realisitcally . Punching the air faster isnt for punching power , sparring isnt coreographed to death , variation and expirementation is the norm and not the exception ..... did I miss anything :wink: :twisted:
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Post by MikeK »

Yeah, to duck and cover. Incoming! :lol:
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Post by mhosea »

Can't wait. :popcorn:
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Post by Stryke »

I guess i`ll be dissing karate again :roll:
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Post by MikeK »

I know that karate is excellent, just needs some updating.
(Whoops I just joined the Peanut Gallery) ;)

If the following statement is true, it might not be, are we through some of our training methods going against this natural flexibility?
"The nervous system was designed to be flexible. You typically find yourself doing things you've never done before."
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Post by Bill Glasheen »

More strawman arguments, guys. I really think you should have read my first post a little more, Mike.

I don't claim the martial paradigm you are creating, so you're wasting your breath.
Mike wrote:
Odd how people can get fairly functional in Muay Thai, combatives or BJJ but karate "takes a life time" to get the basics.

I don't buy it, Mike.

First, Muay Thai and BJJ are both sports. Good luck trying to equate that to self-defense. Last time I checked, there are no gloves or mats on the street. Mind you, I have no problem with sports. I probably learned a lot more basic mechanics of martial arts from baseball than I learned from any other martial or non-martial activity.

Second, it's all relative. Take some half-ass and put him in Muay Thai shorts, and he'll quickly become a half-assed Muay Thai practitioner. Same with BJJ. The name doesn't make you a Gracie, no matter how long you spend on the mat.

As for combatives, I know better, Mike. I know just enough about what Rich does with the MCMAP to know that you can't get "up to speed" so quickly.

I've seen these arguments before online where certain individuals <ahem> like to bash traditional martial artists for doing extremely precise demos. I was witnessing one a year or two ago. All I could do was shake my head. Pointless... Proficiency in ANY martial art is a noble endeavor. A well-schooled, talented individual from any number of martial disciplines can kick booty, IMO. I don't need to see the style patch, or lack thereof.

My opinion, of course.

As for the perfection thing, well I started MA with a crazy Japanese in 1972. He was a traditionalist, but you probably wouldn't recognize it as being the traditional paradigm that you and others like to bash. (He studied from Gogen Yamaguchi, Funakoshi, etc., etc.) We were sparring in the first month, and without equipment (except for groin cups and mouth pieces). He was a scary MF, and IMO was way, way ahead of his time in martial training. As an example, he had us all hyped up in sympathetic stimulation on a regular basis. I used to think he was just mean. Now I get it. And I attribute some of my own "natural" ability now to what he instilled in me very early and in very short order.

The perfection thing for them is a different mindset. The Japanese just think differently from us, Mike. FWIW, they "got" six sigma long before our own people did - even though they were American ideas. They kicked our ass in electronics and automobile technology before our industry finally woke up to what our own researchers (Deming and others) were trying to preach.

It isn't about the having; it's about the getting. It isn't the destination; it's the process.

Six sigma, FWIW, is a measure of variability. We reduce the variability to increase the quality. But variability ALWAYS exists. And variability does not equate to choice, flexibility, or adaptability. Those are entirely different concepts.

What I mean by reducing variability and what you are TRYING to attribute to variability are two very different things. I believe that out-and-out sloppiness and ambivalence are inexcuseable. Do what you mean, and mean what you do. You want to box my thinking and my ideas into a place that just doesn't represent where I am, Mike. I am the king of "out of the box" in martial arts. I am constantly seeing things in fundamentals that others think are due to the hallucinogens I am taking.

Whatever you do, do it well. That's all that matters, IMO.

- Bill
Stryke

Post by Stryke »

Whatever you do, do it well. That's all that matters, IMO.
Isnt that exactly the position where taking Bill ? 8)

more strawman nonsense from you , great stuff . :roll:

And I predicted it where bashing again not having a discussion on training methods .

the sport argument is ludicrous .
but you probably wouldn't recognize it as being the traditional paradigm that you and others like to bash. (He studied from Gogen Yamaguchi, Funakoshi, etc., etc.) We were sparring in the first month, and without equipment (except for groin cups and mouth pieces). He was a scary MF, and IMO was way, way ahead of his time in martial training. As an example, he had us all hyped up in sympathetic stimulation on a regular basis. I used to think he was just mean. Now I get it. And I attribute some of my own "natural" ability now to what he instilled in me very early and in very short order.
your the one bringing up tradition , i`m just discussing a method , wheres the tradition bashing ? , where disucssing the fighting tradition of MA , I dont know what you do , but effectiveness is traditional .
I don't claim the martial paradigm you are creating, so you're wasting your breath.


your the one taking up the sword Bill , no one said you do anything , now dont fall on it because no one asked you too . Youve beena round long enough to recognise the process/approach where talking about .

If the critique hits a bit close to home thats irrelevant , can we discuss the concepts and not label folks bashers and raising strawmen , your intelligent right ?
It isn't about the having; it's about the getting. It isn't the destination; it's the process.
so you agree it`s not about skill development , it`s just a practice that has some moves that could be possibly used for self defence in it. 8O

it`s the process that develops the having , you ignore the process and it`s just mindless mimicry .

now I`ll be amazed if you can talk about process without getting any more of topic and resorting to your usual tactics .

now how about defining perfection for us ? or refuting the logic of the position that form follows function ?


why hold up examples of your own esperince as good , and then disagree with it ?



As for the perfection thing, well I started MA with a crazy Japanese in 1972. He was a traditionalist, but you probably wouldn't recognize it as being the traditional paradigm that you and others like to bash. (He studied from Gogen Yamaguchi, Funakoshi, etc., etc.) We were sparring in the first month, and without equipment (except for groin cups and mouth pieces). He was a scary MF, and IMO was way, way ahead of his time in martial training. As an example, he had us all hyped up in sympathetic stimulation on a regular basis. I used to think he was just mean. Now I get it. And I attribute some of my own "natural" ability now to what he instilled in me very early and in very short order.
whats this got to do with punching the air and doing the same thing the same way ?

your obviously Spectacular , no ones said any different , now back to the topic ?
Last edited by Stryke on Sun Jan 14, 2007 4:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
Stryke

Post by Stryke »

I probably learned a lot more basic mechanics of martial arts from baseball than I learned from any other martial or non-martial activity.
did you think about that before you posted ? , and is it true ?
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