Synopses & Reviews
andlt;iandgt;Why do the smartest students often do poorly on standardized tests?andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Why did you tank that interview or miss that golf swing when you should have had it in the bag?andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Why do you mess up when it matters the mostand#8212;and how can you perform your best instead?andlt;/iandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;It happens to all of us. Youand#8217;ve prepared for days, weeks, even years for the big day when you will finally show your stuffand#8212;in academics, in your career, in sportsand#8212;but when the big moment arrives, nothing seems to work. You hit the wrong note, drop the ball, get stumped by a simple question. In other words, you choke. Itand#8217;s not fun to think about, but now thereand#8217;s good news: This doesnand#8217;t have to happen.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Dr. Sian Beilock, an expert on performance and brain science, reveals in andlt;iandgt;Choke andlt;/iandgt;the astonishing new science of why we all too often blunder when the stakes are high. What happens in our brain and body when we experience the dreaded performance anxiety? And what are we doing differently when everything magically and#8220;clicksand#8221; into place and the perfect golf swing, tricky test problem, or high-pressure business pitch becomes easy? In an energetic tour of the latest brain science, with surprising insights on every page, Beilock explains the inescapable links between body and mind; reveals the surprising similarities among the ways performers, students, athletes, and business people choke; and shows how to succeed brilliantly when it matters most. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;In lively prose and accessibly rendered science, Beilock examines how attention and working memory guide human performance, how experience and practice and brain development interact to create our abilities, and how stress affects all these factors. She sheds new light on counterintuitive realities, like why the highest performing people are most susceptible to choking under pressure, why we may learn foreign languages best when weand#8217;re not paying attention, why early childhood athletic training can backfire, and how our emotions can make us both smarter and dumber. All these fascinating findings about academic, athletic, and creative intelligence come together in Beilockand#8217;s new ideas about performance under pressureand#8212;and her secrets to never choking again. Whether youand#8217;re at the Olympics, in the boardroom, or taking the SAT, Beilockand#8217;s clear, prescriptive guidance shows how to remain cool under pressureand#8212;the key to performing well when everythingand#8217;s on the line.
Parents, teachers, bosses spend hours asking their constituencies to pay attention, to focus.and#160; Yet wandering minds are common--even in the best of us.and#160; In fact, for a full 50% of our waking hours, our minds are not focused on tasks at hand.and#160; And rest assured, this is actually a good thing.and#160;and#160; We are biologically disposed to alternate between paying attention and thinking about something else. Do these lapses provide the rest and relaxation our brains need to recover from periods of concentration?and#160; Or are these neurological interludes purely for pleasure?
In The Wandering Mind, Corballis argues that mind-wandering has many constructive and adaptive features.and#160; These range fromand#160; mental time traveland#151;the wandering back and forth through time, not only to plan our futures based on past experience, but also to generate a continuous sense of who we are--to the ability to inhabit the minds of others, increasing empathy and social understanding. Through mind-wandering, we invent, tell stories, and expand our mental horizons. Mind wandering , hardly the sign of a faulty network or aimless distraction, actually underwrites creativity, whether as a Wordsworth wandering lonely as a cloud, or an Einstein imagining himself travelling on a beam of light.and#160; Corballis takes readers on a mental journey in chapters that can be savored piecemeal, as the minds of readers wander in different ways, and sometimes have limited attentional capacity.and#160;
Rooted in neuroscience, psychology and evolutionary biology, but written with Corballisand#8217; signature wit and wisdom, The Wandering Mind illuminates those murky regions of the brain where dreams and religion, fiction and fantasy lurk.
If weand#8217;ve done our job welland#151;and, letand#8217;s be honest, if we're luckyand#151;youand#8217;ll read to the end of this description. Most likely, however, you wonand#8217;t. Somewhere in the middle of the next paragraph, your mind will wander off. Minds wander. Thatand#8217;s just how it is.
That may be bad news for me, but is it bad news for people in general? Does the fact that as much as fifty percent of our waking hours find us failing to focus on the task at hand represent a problem? Michael Corballis doesnand#8217;t think so, and with The Wandering Mind, he shows us why, rehabilitating woolgathering and revealing its incredibly useful effects. Drawing on the latest research from cognitive science and evolutionary biology, Corballis shows us how mind-wandering not only frees us from moment-to-moment drudgery, but also from the limitations of our immediate selves. Mind-wandering strengthens our imagination, fueling the flights of invention, storytelling, and empathy that underlie our shared humanity; furthermore, he explains, our tendency to wander back and forth through the timeline of our lives is fundamental to our very sense of ourselves as coherent, continuing personalities.
Full of unusual examples and surprising discoveries, The Wandering Mind mounts a vigorous defense of inattentionand#173;and#151;even as it never fails to hold the readerand#8217;s.
About the Author
Sian Beilock, a leading expert on cognitive science and the many factors influencing all types of performance, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. She received a BS in Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego in 1997 and PhDs in both kinesiology and psychology from Michigan State University in 2003.