Monday, April 09, 2007

Thinking under pressure

Challenging math problems are solved using a great deal of working memory, or "short-term" memory. Studies show that those who perform regularly with a higher degree of working memory are more susceptible to pressure because they rely on a working memory that has been crowded out by anxiety.

The solution to this is to either reduce reliance on working memory (higher reliance on automation or memorization) or become oblivious to pressure. Pressure seeps in through self-doubt and pessimism. Practice and familiarity can reduce the amount of self-doubt and reduce pressure, thus increasing thinking capacity in a high stress environment.

2 comments:

Jonathan Jiang said...

It seems that when people get older, they start losing working memory while building up ability based on experience. I have no data to prove this but I would guess that older, experienced people who may have less working memory perform better than inexperienced people with lots of working memory in part because of the stress factor you described.

Quackster said...

I think your post is very insightful. As the old saying goes practice makes perfect.