Scientists Say They Can Predict the Next NBA Champs Based on This Weird Neuroscience
A bunch of weirdly entrancing videos have come out this year of pro basketball players moving in perfect synchronicity with one another, apparently unconsciously. We're not just talking about a defending player mirroring an offensive players' moves, either—that's what they're supposed to do.
We're talking about players who begin running down the court at exactly the same moment, seemingly turning around as one, stepping with the same foot and pumping with the same arm, or when two sideline players make the same exasperated mannerism (clapping their hands, then leaning forward and hanging their head) in perfect unison.
Watch the video below to see what we're talking about:
With the final week of the NBA regular season here, we highlight the best SYNCHRONICITY of the season: pic.twitter.com/UEMR9zibGc— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 7, 2018
Sure, pro basketball is all about working as a team, but this stuff borders on creepy. A lot of the synchronicity isn't even happening in response to plays—players pull off their shirts and raise the same hands to the crowd with split-second timing, seemingly unaware that their teammates are doing the same thing.
Part of what's happening here may be natural for teams like these, says USC Marshall socio-environmental researcher Scott Wiltermuth—basketball teams are drilled to play and move as a team, and so synchronistic actions become part of their behavior.
In fact, it's a good sign that a team has strong trust and cooperation, and it just might be the best way to predict who will win the 2018 NBA Finals.
"When you have that sense of connection from synchronous activity, you're more willing to sacrifice for the team," says Wiltermuth.
"In a basketball context you might see more assists. People are sacrificing their chance to score in order to give their teammates a chance."
From a neuroscience level, what we're seeing may be the work of mirror neurons, special cells that allow us to mimic not just another person's actions, but their state of mind.
They're essential for empathy as well as mirroring physical actions, and their action may account for incredible feats of synchronicity these players show when they're in game mode.
So, if the neuroscience behind synchronicity can decide what team wins the NBA championship, just who is favored to take it all home—the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Golden State Warriors?
Well, you tell us.