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Never bet against a pro

Elite basketball players most adept at predicting a shot’s fate

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1:05pm, August 10, 2008
He shoots. Ask the other players if he’ll score.

Professional basketball players are far better judges of whether a shot will result in a basket than coaches, sports journalists or novices, shows a new study appearing online August 10 in Nature Neuroscience.

When viewing videos of a basketball shot, novices, coaches and sports journalists watch the ball to predict how a shot will fall. But players reenact the shot in their own brains and muscles and can tell if it’s a basket even before the ball leaves the hand.

These results put another win on the board for one side in a scientific debate about how people understand action and infer what others are thinking. One side of the debate holds that, with experience, people amass a checklist of criteria to tell what other people think and what they are likely to do next. The other school of thought is that people simulate the actions of others in their own minds t

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