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Exploring the Mind | The Science of "Choking Under Pressure": Why We Fail and How to Succeed When It Matters


Monday November 25, 2019: 7:00pm to 8:30pm


Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room


Join Professor Taraz Lee from the Cognition, Control, and Action (CoCoA) Lab at the University of Michigan for his presentation on the science of "choking under pressure," and learn some of the tools you can use to perform at your best when it matters most.

Just in that moment when we want to do our best and the pressure is on, we often fail to live up to our potential. From sports to public-speaking to test-taking, many of us have experienced and witnessed "choking under pressure." What is happening in your brain and body when you freeze or fail in stressful situations? Is there anything we can do about it? In this talk, UM Psychology Professor Taraz Lee shares insights from the fields of Psychology and Neuroscience that shed light on the phenomenon of "choking under pressure," including some of the psychological tools you can use to perform at your best when it matters most.

Taraz Lee is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Michigan in the Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience Area and the head of the Cognition, Control, and Action (CoCoA) Lab. Using a variety of techniques such as functional neuroimaging, non-invasive brain stimulation, behavioral studies, and computational modeling, Prof. Lee and his lab study how motivation and executive control processes both help and hurt performance in a variety of domains. Many people have the intuition that exerting too much control over well-learned actions can be harmful, especially when under pressure to perform. At the same time, most day-to-day activities clearly benefit from goal-directed control and enhanced motivation. The CoCoA Lab is interested in understanding this apparent paradox. How do the mechanisms of executive control and motivation both support and potentially hamper the activity of neural systems needed for successful performance?

This program is part of the "Exploring the Mind" series and is in partnership with The University of Michigan Department of Psychology.