Don’t Choke!

Remember President Obama’s inauguration, when Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath of office? Sian Beilock, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, is pretty sure she knows what happened:

Pressure-filled situations can deplete a part of the brain’s processing power known as working memory, which is critical to everyday activities.

Specifically, Beilock says Roberts was probably overthinking his delivery, and should have just put the whole thing on autopilot.

Beilock is the author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To. A recent Chicago Tribune article highlights some of Beilock’s advice for preventing stress from interfering with brain processing, including the above-mentioned need to put things on autopilot, putting worries to paper, and practicing making a fool out of yourself.

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