The answer to the question of whose curveball breaks harder — that of the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett or the Phillies’ Cole Hamels — may be neither.
Zhong-Lin Lu, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at USC, along with USC alumni Emily Knight and Robert Ennis and Arthur Shapiro, associate professor of psychology at American University, developed a simple visual demo that suggests a curveball’s break is, at least in part, a trick of the eye.
Their demo won the Best Visual Illusion of the Year prize at the Vision Sciences meeting earlier this year.
The idea is that the effect is due to the batters being forced to switch between peripheral vision and central vision during a swing.