Monday, August 15, 2011

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

This is a mainstream book that got some good press on the subject that talent is created, painstakingly and is not inborn. Unfortunately, this idea by Coyle was completely beaten to the punch by this book "Talent is Overrated", published 2 years earlier by Geoff Colvin:

Researchers found a directly proportional relationship between hours of practice and white matter (myelin) in skills varying from piano playing to reading skill to vocabulary skill. In 2005, a study of 47 normal children aged 5 to 18 correlated increased IQ with increased organization and density of white matter. P40

The more a nerve fires, the more myelin wraps around it. The more myelin wraps around it, the faster the signals travel, increasing velocities up to 100x... In addition, the refractory time (the wait required between one signal and the next) decreases by a factor of 30. The increased speed and decreased refractory time combine to boost overall information processing speed by 3000x. P41

This explains why you have no hope in hitting a fastball by 'thinking about' unless you've practiced it 1000s of time to create a 3000x faster circuit.

Myelination happens in one dirction. Once a skill circuit is insulated, you can't uninsulate it (except through age or disease). That's why habits are so hard to break. The only way to change them is to build new habits by repeating new behaviors – by myelinating new circuits. P45

We continue to experience a net gain of myelin until age 50, when the balance tips towards loss. We retain the ability to myelinate throughout life – thankfully 5% of our oligos (myelin building cells) remain immature, always ready to answer the call. P45

Why do breast fed babies have higher IQ's?

Because the fatty acids in breast milk are the building blocks of myelin.

Why did Michael Jordan have to retire?

His muscles were fine and strong, but his myelin started to break down with age, not much, but enough to prevent him from firing impulses at the speed and frequency required for his explosive movement.

Why can horses walk immediately on being born, while humans take a year?

A horse is born with its muscles and nerves for walking already myelinated, ready to go. A babies don't get myelinated a year or so. P67-8

The unconscious mind is able to process over 11 million pieces of information per second, while the conscious mind can manage only 40. This disproportion points to the efficiency and necessity of relegating mental activities to the unconscious – and helps us to understand why appeals to the unconscious can be so effective. P112

See the Lords of Dogtown as an example of a Hotbed and good Coaching.

In Finland, a teacher is regarded as the social equal of a doctor or lawyer, and is compensated accordingly. All elementary school teachers have master's degrees; schools are run like teaching hospitals, where young teachers are analyzed and evaluated. It's competitive: some schools receive 40 applications for 1 position... Finns spend less per pupil than Americans - $7500/year vs. $8700/year. Yet by 9th grade, Finnish students outscore the rest of the world in math, science and reading, and help to keep the Finns amongst world's most productive workers. P208