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Do you ever experience a ‘brain freeze’ in high stress situations?

It’s that moment when you’re slap bang in the middle of doing something, and then suddenly you just crack under the pressure, your mind just goes, and can’t think what you were going to say or do?

Of course, it only ever happens when you’re in front of people, or put on the spot, so you think you like an idiot, even though you know exactly what you are doing.

If you are, there’s some good news: people who get this tend to be much smarter.

It’s based around the concept of you having more ‘working memory’ – the amount of information you are able to juggle around in your head at one time. This skill is extremely helpful when doing tasks like arithmetic, and people who have it tend to do well academically and in their careers.

A new study tested 85 participants’ working memory capacity through basic maths and sentence composition questions, to see which ones were above average.

They then gave them some more tricky arithmetic tasks to do, first without any pressure, then with various stress factors – such as a monetary reward, or being told that the worst performers would be ‘named and shamed’.

The result found that those with high working memory capacity were severely affected by the added pressure; but those with working memory capacity were hardly effected at all.

So there you go: choking is a sign of intelligence.

HT: British Psychology Society

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