I have been home sick for a few days, and since I have no original thought from work to share with you right now, I've decided to share a post from teknofil.no, It's in Norwegian so I'm going to translate it into English.
Most of us have probably experienced getting a total blank sometime in our life, when everything freezes and thought comes to a halt. Perhaps an important exam, a job interview or a date? For professional football players will missing a penalty shootout, in the World Cup or the Champions League finals, be a real nightmare.
A group of researchers has now looked into why we react so differently under pressure, according Techtimes.com. Using a computer game, have professor and research director Vikram Chib from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found the secret.
Win or Loss
According to Chib, it's all about two things: How much gain or loss there is in the current case and how much you dislike losing.
Test method explained in a press release: 26 participants aged 20 to 30 years had the first day to learn a game that required precise hand control. The game was adjusted for each participant so that all stood on an equal basis regardless of skill level.
The next day they were to play for real money, each participant was told how much money they could win or lose before each round.
In total, they were to play 300 rounds of the short game, eventually one of the rounds would be randomly selected as the deciding round. Therefore they needed to perform well in each of the 300 rounds to get the highest possible cash prize. Here researchers could record how participants proceeded in terms of how much money they could win or lose.
In a separate test participants would choose if they would bet money on coin tossing. 140 coin tosses, to be exact. For example, they were told that they would win four US dollars if they guessed correctly but lose two if they answered incorrectly. The gain and loss ranged therefore from round to round. In this way, the researchers could calculate each participant's aversion to lose.
Bad losers perform better?
From these two tests the research manager claims that he could see some obvious traits that reveal why some people handles pressure better than others do.
- We discovered that the way we framed incentive - as a potential gain or a potential loss - had a strong effect on how the participants acted when they performed the task. The effect was different for those with high versus low aversion to lose, says Chib's press release.
The high aversion to lose (poor losers), managed in the test to keep a cool head even in situations where they risked losing a lot of money. These subjects also managed better than the day before - when there was no money involved - when they received incentives of between 25 and 75 dollars to perform better in certain rounds. What is interesting though is that most of them could not handle the pressure when the gain increased to a maximum amount of $ 100.
Those with low aversion to losing proceeded however; smoother compared to a gain or loss, but could not handle the pressure if they were in danger of losing the maximum amount of $ 100.
Measured brain activity using MRI
During the test, the researchers measured brain activity of participants via MR. There they saw that one particular area of the brain were activated each time the participants were told how much money was at stake.
Activity in the outer stratum (or basal ganglia) increased in line with how much money were at stake.
Chiba conclusion is that this part of the cerebrum that control incentive based motivation and physical performance. He hopes that the findings can be used both by trainers to get the best out of the athletes, and to help you and me to perform better under pressure.
In short, it's to become aware of our own aversion to lose, and act accordingly.
The study is available from the Journal of Neuroscience.
IT-Shizuma 22 years old from Norway.
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