For more Body & Brain stories,
who will choke
By Laura Sanders
As any high school senior staring down
the SAT knows, when the stakes are high,
some test-takers choke. A new study
finds that activity in distinct parts of the
brain can predict whether a person will
remain cool or crumble under pressure.
The results, presented April 1, may
help scientists better understand how
the brain copes with stressful situations,
said psychologist Thomas Carr of Mich-
igan State University in East Lansing.
“Sometimes you come across a study you
wish you’d done yourself,” he said. “This
is such a study.”
Andrew Mattarella-Micke and Sian
Beilock, both of the University of
Chicago, had volunteers perform math
problems, some easy, some hard, while
undergoing a functional MRI scan.
These two-step calculations were
designed to tap into a person’s working
memory: Participants had to hold an
intermediate number in mind to cor-
rectly calculate the final answer.
Jolt to brain aids language recovery
By Laura Sanders
A brain-zapping technique helps people recover language after a stroke, new
research shows. The results may point to
a better way for people to relearn how to
talk after a brain injury.
“I think this work is very promising,”
said cognitive neuroscientist Roi Cohen
Kadosh of the University of Oxford. The
study, presented April 2, is one of the
first attempts to apply brain stimulation
methods to a clinical population, he said.
Speech therapist and neuroscientist
Jenny Crinion of University College
London and collaborators focused on
people who had trouble finding the right
word after a stroke. Known as anomia, the
condition is frustrating, leaving people
unable to call the correct word to mind.