Why do we blunder when the stakes are high? Researcher Sian Leah Beilock studies how performance anxiety can be exacerbated or alleviated, and the simple strategies we can use to ensure success under pressure.


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. 


Q&A with Sian on the TEDMED Blog

Video: Sian Beilock: The Science of "Choking"

Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To, 2011

Tackling youth anxiety

Youth anxiety, depression and suicide – An unfortunate headline we see too often.

Today’s youth have a far more complicated path to adulthood than their parents despite all the advantages they have. In our ever more wired and high pressure world, our youth feel less and less connected. Researchers ask “why”, and follow the science to possible answers.

To make change, we must foster our youth’s resiliency, empathy, and sense of empowerment. These speakers discuss why it is critical to help our youth escape the trap of perfectionism, build coping and problem solving skills, learn how to manage stress under pressure, connect with the community, and establish meaningful friendships.

This Playlist highlights the challenges of youth anxiety and brings hope that we have the answers within ourselves and our communities.