The Frontal Cortex

Archives for April, 2010

Don’t Choke

I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people about my recent WSJ article, which looked at the superstar effect, choking and performance anxiety. Most of the letters ask a similar question: Can anything be done to prevent choking? Or are we destined to sabotage ourselves when it matters the most? Let’s begin with the bad…

Classroom Creativity

Everybody wants a creative child – in theory. The reality of creativity, however, is a little more complicated, as creative thoughts tend to emerge when we’re distracted, daydreaming, disinhibited and not following the rules. In other words, the most imaginative kids are often the trouble-makers. Eric Barker recently referred me to this interesting study, which…

The NFL Draft

The 2010 NFL Draft is later this month, and there is already plenty of speculation about which QB will go first, and which DT is a better choice, and which teams will trade up for a higher draft pick. The stakes for the teams are huge, as a failed draft pick will not only waste…

Light Bulbs

There’s a neat list of variables that reliably (at least reliably in the lab) increase certain forms of creativity. There is, for instance, the blue room effect, and the benefit of spatial distance, and the bonus of living abroad, and the perk of thinking like a 7-year old. Here’s a new creative strategy: Previous research…

Gay Animals

Jon Mooallem had a really interesting article in the Times Magazine yesterday. It reviewed some recent research on animal “homosexuality,” with an emphasis on scientists who argue that same-sex behavior is not a single adaptation or mutation, but rather reflects a panoply of different instincts, spandrels, and evolutionary accidents: Something similar may be happening with…

The Superstar Effect

I’ve got a new essay in the WSJ about Tiger Woods, the hazards of playing against a superstar, and why we choke in high-pressure situations. The subplot of the piece is the positive feedback loop of success, or why winning in the past makes us more likely to win in the future. Every underdog, it…

Attention and Intelligence

Let’s begin with this recent experiment by neuroscientists at Rutgers, which demonstrated that general intelligence (at least in rodents) is mediated by improvements in selective attention. Here’s the abstract: In both humans and mice, the efficacy of working memory capacity and its related process, selective attention, are each strongly predictive of individuals’ aggregate performance in…