News & Articles

Why do some athletes choke under pressure? The answer lies deep in the brain

February 8, 2018

Imagine two Olympians who are equally trained, equally fit, equally talented. Is there a way to tell which athlete will win, and which athlete will choke? Vikram Chib, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins, says that if he could compare their brain scans, he’d have a good idea about which one is most likely to choke under pressure.

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spin to win

Spinning for the win: Repetition helps Olympians stay oriented, even as they complete complex spins and flips

February 7, 2018

Everyone’s brain builds models—typically for ordinary tasks like walking down the street or climbing stairs. But years and years of practicing elaborate, disorienting moves like the triple Salchow or Lutz has forged considerably more complex models in the brains of elite athletes, says Kathleen Cullen, who studies the neural mechanisms that control balance.

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