Play Ball!

Our hometown San Francisco Giants kick off the World Series tonight. If they win, it would be the franchise’s first World Series victory since the 50s when they were the New York Giants. Only the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs have gone longer without a World Series Title.

Cognitive neuroscientist Jordan Grafman, Chief of the Cognitive Neuroscience Section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), uses functional MRI scans of the brain to find out what’s going on cognitively as individuals wrestle with big questions such as politics and religion. And according to an article in Discover Magazine, he also “delved into the social neuroscience literature to understand why anyone would love the Chicago Cubs.”

Grafman says that Cubs worshippers are similar to religious adherents in their staunch belief that every “next year” will be the year. He says this hope springs from the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain responsible for high-level cognitive activities such as planning, reasoning, establishing context—and, undoubtedly, inventing justifications for loving perennial losers in baseball.

So hats off to those religious Cubs, Indians and Giants fans among us with such well-developed prefrontal cortexes. And who knows – this year might finally be “next year” for the Giants!

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One Response to “Play Ball!”

  1. Baseball on the brain « Thoughts from Be Amazing Learning Says:

    […] week, we posted on the role of the prefrontal cortex in fans’ near-religous devotion to their teams. Today, […]

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