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The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Anything Audible – Unabridged

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A New York Times best-selling author explores cutting-edge brain science to learn where talent comes from, how it grows, and how we can make ourselves smarter.

How does a penniless Russian tennis club with one indoor court create more top 20 women players than the entire United States? How did a small town in rural Italy produce the dozens of painters and sculptors who ignited the Italian Renaissance? Why are so many great soccer players from Brazil?

Where does talent come from, and how does it grow?

New research has revealed that myelin, once considered an inert form of insulation for brain cells, may be the holy grail of acquiring skill. Journalist Daniel Coyle spent years investigating talent hotbeds, interviewing world-class practitioners (top soccer players, violinists, fighter, pilots, artists, and bank robbers) and neuroscientists. In clear, accessible language, he presents a solid strategy for skill acquisition - in athletics, fine arts, languages, science or math - that can be successfully applied through a person's entire lifespan.

©2009 Daniel Coyle; (P)2009 HighBridge Company

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444 of 468 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L. Marler on April 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
How do people get good at something? Wait a minute, that's the not the right question, how do people get great at something?

Well, frankly, there has been a significant amount of research on the matter of human performance and the development of skill/talent. Author, Daniel Coyle, has looked at the research and he also went on a road trip to what he calls "talent hotbeds", places where great talent has been produced out of proportion to their size and perceived stature; for example, a Russian tennis club, a music school in Dallas, a soccer field in Brazil, and others.

Coyle shares what he learned in this excellent book, "The Talent Code". The Talent Code covers three basic areas:

1) Deep practice. Practice is important to world-class performance. I guess everyone knew that already, huh? Well, sometimes, it doesn't hurt to remind of everyone of the obvious. What might be a little more helpful is the understanding of "how" to practice. What constitutes "deep practice"? This is the kind of practice that separates the great from the not-so-great.

The understanding of "deep practice" involves an understanding of a substance called "myelin". Myelin is the insulation that wraps around nerve fibers. According to Coyle, myelin turns out to be a very big deal in the development of skill. Myelin is increased through deep practice and, in turn, increased myelin affects the signal strength, speed and accuracy of the electric signals traveling through nerve fibers. This increase of myelin and its effect on neurons has more to do with skill development than had previously been realized.

2) Ignition.
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369 of 394 people found the following review helpful By Viriya Taecharungroj on May 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"I'm going to practice it a zillion million times," she said. "I'm going to play super good."

"The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle is a book on how to grow talent. The author is against the wisdom that talent is natural. The book is around the belief that talent come from Myelin. Myelin is the "insulation that wrap these nerve fibers and increases signal strength, speed, and accuracy." When the certain signal is sent down the nerve system, myelin wraps around the nerve fibre. The thicker the myelin, the better the signal. Thus, "skill is myelin insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows according to certain signals."

The book is divided into three parts of talent growing; 1. Deep Practice 2. Ignition 3. Master Coaching


Part 1: Deep Practice

Chapter 1: The Sweet Spot
This is the first chapter to familiarise us with the deep practice. Coyle wrote about Brazilian football (soccer) and why it is the world's talent hotbed. He had an amazing story of Edwin Link and how his unusual device transformed the training of the Air Force.

Chapter 2: The Deep Practice Cell
This chapter surrounds the idea of myelin and how it might be the holy grail to talent. It is very scientific. To sum it up, "deep practice x 10,000 hours = world-class skill."

Chapter 3: The Brontës, the Z-Boys, and the Renaissance
The author started with the Brontë sisters from England in the 1850s who wrote fantastic children books. He also wrote about the group of skaters by the name of Z-Boys and the guilds during the renaissance and how they produced highly talented people.

Chapter 4: The Three Rules of Deep Practice
This chapter, Coyle gives us three rules of Deep Practicing. 1. Chunk It Up 2. Repeat It 3.
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1,041 of 1,155 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Forbes-roberts on November 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
(This is a long review because there's a lot to say about this book--none of it good.)

The premise of The Talent Code is straightforward. Myelin is a neurological substance that wraps itself around neurons that are specifically engaged when we learn and practice skills The thicker the sheath of myelin around these neurons, the more hardwired and precise these skills become. The Talent Code examines teaching/learning methods that ostensibly hasten and maximize the process of myelin wrapping thereby radically increasing our ability to acquire, polish and hardwire complex skills quickly and efficiently. This, Coyle claims, is the key to greatness in sports, music and (possibly) academic learning.

Coyle attempts to illustrate and prove this theory with anecdotal rather than scientific evidence (although he often refers to scientific studies on myelin to validate his observations) that he has gleaned from his visits to "hotbeds of talent", as he calls them, around the globe where learning methods that stimulate myelin wrapping are used, producing (in a few cases anyway) inordinate numbers of exceptional athletes and musicians.

It's an interesting premise but Coyle's exploration of it is riddled with errors,fallacies, unproven claims, poor research, puzzling semantics and old ideas and concepts from other sources that Coyle has cobbled together and presented as cutting edge information. These problems are evident right out of the gate when Coyle presents his dumbed down description of the part myelin plays in skill acquisition and shows just how shaky his grasp of his subject is. Yes, myelin is important in the learning process but it's controlled and regulated by the neurochemical BDNF.
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