TARAZ LEE, Psychology, University of Michigan
Title: The costs and benefits of top-down control: The curious case of choking under pressure
Ebbinghaus Empire Series 2015-2016
VIDEO RECORDING OF TALK
Abstract: “Don’t overthink it! Just do it!” These phrases are commonly uttered to skilled individuals just before a performance. Many people have the intuition that exerting too much control over well-learned and automatized behavior can be harmful. This effect can be demonstrated experimentally by manipulating participants’ attentional focus and/or inducing performance pressure. At the same time, most day-to-day activities clearly benefit from goal-directed cognitive control. Further, training regimes and coaching often make use of explicit, reflective instruction to augment performance. Fundamentally I am interested in this dichotomy: How do the mechanisms of executive control both support and potentially hamper the activity of neural systems needed for successful performance on various tasks? To fully understand the mechanisms of top-down control, we must also understand the costs that this type of behavioral control carries. Using a multifaceted approach combining functional neuroimaging techniques, causal manipulations such as non-invasive brain stimulation, and carefully designed behavioral studies in humans, my goal is to gain a more complete understanding of cognitive control by studying its interaction with skilled performance.
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