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The brains mirror neureon system

Posted by on November 8, 2011

The brains mirror neureon system

© Divyam Ruth Täschler
If two hands make it better???

'The brains mirror neureon system' or,
'the reason why you suck at blocking on the five bar'


Have you ever asked yourself why you suck at blocking on the five bar? I mean, really suck? Why you go wall everytime your opponent goes lane and vice versa, also you sweared to yourself next time you wouldn't move? I often caught myself thinking that I'd block a hundred times better when I'd close my eyes. Well as it turns out, I probably should have done so...

Researchers at the Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences Research Department, University College London might have stumbled across the secret why fellow foosers all over the world think of their five-bar block as their most useless tool in the box. As the authors of the article found out, players of rock-paper-scissors tend to immitate each others movements (Cook et. al 2011), thereby leading to a higher number of draws as you would statistically expect by pure chance. Responsible for this are the so called mirror neurons in our brain. And weather we like it or not, they make us immitate movements of other human beings. But where does that have anything to do with foosball. Well, just imagine your opponent going lane with his man on the five-bar rod to fake you off the wall. In that moment, your mirror neurons will ensure that you'll follow him like a lemming jumping over a cliff, opening the hole where the ball comes rolling through just split-seconds later. Those evil neuron basterds.

What are they good for anyway? Scientists believe that immitating other people is especially important for infants to learn movements, but also for every-day social life. What has remained unclear is whether this so called "automatic imitation" can be consciously overridden when its effects are detrimental. And detrimental they are... But there is hope for as after all: The authors of the article tend to think that it might be possible to overrule your uncounscies urge to immitate and therefore free yourself of acting stupid on every single blocking attempt.

But for all the foosers who are unable to do so and fall for the same old fake over and over again, the new study offers help: Statistically expected results in a rock-paper-scissors game, meaning each player wins, loses or draws with a percentage of 33.3%, can be achieved by blindfolding both players. So if you find yourself in the middle of a game blocking nothing: Close your friggin eyes!


Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences (2011): Automatic imitation in a strategic context: players of rock–paper–scissors imitate opponents' gestures. Richard Cook, Geoffrey Bird, Gabriele Lünser, Steffen Huck and Cecilia Heyes

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My Comments

Nice article, so true
Nice article Jonny, I already did so by not looking what the opponent was doing (then it avoids falling in the traps made by the opponent to make me react on his fake attempt) but I guess that better is to look and learn how to avoid to react in order the way I'll defend is not readable.

The thing is that I'll take the lead when I'm deciding of my defensive actions, and too often I fall in what you said, reacting the same way during the match without having a planned strategy to make my opponent react on what I do and not the opposite.

If you got more advices, I'll be glad to hear them :)

Message 1/1 - Publish at November 16, 2011 4:50 PM

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