Sian Leah Beilock

Why we choke under pressure—and how to avoid it

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About Sian Leah Beilock

Sian Leah Beilock is exploring the science behind why people “choke” in pressure-packed situations. Specifically, she examines factors in the brain and body that influence performance, in stressful situations ranging from test taking, to public speaking, to sporting events. Using a variety of research methods, including assessing test performance to neuroimaging techniques, Sian’s work is aimed at better understanding how our cognition and reasoning skills change when we are under stress. Sian’s research is routinely covered in the media, including CNN, NPR, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2017, the National Academy of Sciences honored Sian with the Troland Award, in recognition of her pioneering work in experimental psychology. Sian has published two books and over 100 papers though her research. After serving as Executive Vice Provost of the University of Chicago, Sian was recently appointed as the eighth President of Barnard College.

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About This Talk

From taking a test to pitching to a client, just about everyone knows the feeling of choking, or not performing their best, under evaluative eyes. But why does this happen? Why do we sometimes fail to perform up to our potential when under pressure?

Cognitive science researcher and current President of Barnard College Sian Leah Beilock is determined to discover how we can use our understanding of the mind to develop the psychological tools to help us always perform at our best. Watch Sian's 2017 TEDMED Talk to gain a deeper understanding of the factors influencing performance and the tactics you can employ to overcome your nerves when the pressure is on.

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