March Mathness: Effects of basketball on the brain

Antony, James; McDougle, Sam
Issue date: 2020
Cite as:
Antony, James & McDougle, Sam. (2020). March Mathness: Effects of basketball on the brain [Data set]. Princeton University.
  author      = {Antony, James and
                McDougle, Sam},
  title       = {{March Mathness: Effects of basketball on
                 the brain}},
  publisher   = {{Princeton University}},
  year        = 2020,
  url         = {}

Surprise signals a discrepancy between past and current beliefs. It is theorized to be linked to affective experiences, the creation of particularly resilient memories, and segmentation of the flow of experience into discrete perceived events. However, the ability to precisely measure naturalistic surprise has remained elusive. We used advanced basketball analytics to derive a quantitative measure of surprise and characterized its behavioral, physiological, and neural correlates in human subjects observing basketball games. We found that surprise was associated with segmentation of ongoing experiences, as reflected by subjectively perceived event boundaries and shifts in neocortical patterns underlying belief states. Interestingly, these effects differed by whether surprising moments contradicted or bolstered current predominant beliefs. Surprise also positively correlated with pupil dilation, activation in subcortical regions associated with dopamine, game enjoyment, and long-term memory. These investigations support key predictions from event segmentation theory and extend theoretical conceptualizations of surprise to real-world contexts.

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Download the README.txt file for a detailed description of this dataset's content. This dataset is too large to download directly from this item page. You can access and download the data via Globus at this link: (See for instructions on how to use Globus, sign-in is required).

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# Filename Description Filesize
1 dirTree.rtf 5.86 KB
2 readme.txt 7.35 KB