Why We 'Choke' Under Pressure, According To Neuroscience

November 7, 2014 1:38 PM

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During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, all eyes were on the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team, who won the team gold in gymnastics for America for the first time since 1996. But during the individual vault event, all eyes were on one U.S. gymnast in particular: McKayla Maroney. The 16-year-old gymnast had chosen for the team in large part because of her impressive skill in vaulting, and she was all but guaranteed to win gold in the event.

But when the time came for Maroney to sprint down the runway and spring off the apparatus, her gaze intent and her eyes on the prize, Maroney choked. She completely botched her performance, landing on the mat on her rear end. Needless to say, she lost the gold.

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