My thoughts on ‘The Talent Code’

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Recently on the Facebook machine, I mentioned that I was halfway done reading The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. In short, it was absolutely fantastic. Moreover, it’s a book that pretty much everyone could get something out of. From a rehab specialist, to trainer, teacher, or coach, this book truly spans the professions.

That all being said, I found a few random points of interest that I wanted to expand upon.

Let us first establish that any action or skill performed requires a complex of signals traveling at different speeds to and from the brain (grossly oversimplified, but work with me people) then I believe Dr. Douglas Fields, director of the Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology at the National Institutes of Health explains the essence of myelin perfectly. Essentially, (and this will all make sense later)

Signals have to travel at the right speed, arrive at the right time, and myelination is the brain’s way of controlling that speed.

1) As I began getting into the book, I couldn’t help making a connection to fascia. Throughout, Coyle continually refers to this new ‘discovery’ of myelin, similar to that of fascia.

More to the point, any of us out there who went through a year (or years) of anatomy remember the dissection where our objective of the day was to often locate a muscle and its origin/ insertion. How did we get to the muscles? We cut through layer upon layer of skin and fascia, carelessly pushing it to the side so we could get to the ‘prize’ of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. However, science now shows us just how important the fascial connections of the body are.

Nobody does it better that Thomas Myers in Anatomy Trains.

similarly, the discovery of myelin has become something of a revelation to the scientific community. Neurologists are now calling it the “holy grail for acquiring skill.” For years, myelin was basically overlooked as “just an insulator” with no real purpose, but now it’s the coolest thing since Tebowing.

2) In a section near the end of the book, Coyle calls attention to clinical psychology. Specifically, a clinic in California is called ‘The Shyness Clinic’ literally works with people who lack social skills. How does this relate to myelin and skill development? Actually, the therapists believe that a lack of social skills is not because they are in fact ‘shy’ but because they haven’t practiced being social sufficiently (therefore not developing myelin for this skill or action).

Yes, this was interesting to me, but not what caught my attention. This quote from Dr. Albert Ellis, the godfather of this type of therapy was what truly stood out:

The problem with most therapy is that it helps you feel better. But you don’t get better. You have to back it up with action, action, action.

In training or rehab, this knocks the ball out of the park. Simply getting people out of pain is where the treatment just begins. Giving people strategies and lifestyle modification options that they can easily employ is ‘getting people better’. Practicing and preaching this is ‘action, action, action’.

3) Finally, an interesting thought on Alzheimer’s disease:

One of the most reliable predictors for Alzheimer’s onset is level of education

As we engage in deep practice, we add bigger, thicker myelin to our circuits. This in turn helps us compensate for the earlier stages of the disease. This is why we should encourage our geriatric population to continue with card games, crossword puzzles, or anything else they may find interesting so to keep their minds engaged and myelin at work.

As I said from the start, this book is something I would highly recommend as it may change the way you look at the world.

Have a great day!



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