You Are Not Alone: ​​Monkeys Are Driven Under Pressure Too

The team designed their game cursor to challenge the monkeys but it was still simple to analyze. The motion cameras track the monkeys ’arm movements, controlling the dot on the screen. The game itself is the same every time. Any variation in speed, position, and accuracy, the researchers found, could only come from one variable they tested: the reward.

Monkeys learn to identify specific rewards with visible signs on the computer screen-different target colors corresponding to each reward. Earl and the others overdo it during training, where they don’t get caught for failure or small sips for success. They do little good when the reward they envision doubles or doubles. If that trend had been maintained, a spectacular jackpot — a drink 10 times more than the usual prize — would have prompted better performance. But the jackpot does the opposite. The monkeys put up more unsuccessful runs when getting more prizes. Earl rolled 11 of his 11 jackpot times.

To find a cause, Adam Smolder, a student who graduated on the team, examined what the arm movements of the monkeys meant in thousands of trials. Their reaction times and maximum speed did not show a clear trend. “Really the consistency we’re seeing is increasing watch, ”Chase said.

Think of the monkeys ’arm movements as a combined two-phase-a quick, initial“ ballistic reach ”movement to bring the cursor closer to the target, followed by a slower, more precise step “homing” to get away with no point. Earl, Ford, and Nelson are always focused on jackpot trials. Instead of starting as usual, with a quick ballistic reach covered with a lot of ground, their reach stops short; the homing step pulled until time ran out.

“Monkeys are bothered by excessive skill,” Batista said. In humans, psychologists are involved in choking on pay again close attention to your actions, a behavior called clear monitoring. Thinking about your actions slows it down. And he thought that was so; the monkeys were psyching themselves and undershooting. “If that’s not metacognition,” he said, “I don’t know what it is.”

One conjecture as to why big rewards cause choking is that making the right moves relies on a “neural sweet spot” for rewards. Expecting an even greater reward can cause neurons to release more dopamine. At the right level, that dopamine helps keep the movements sharp. But if motivation jumps, neurotransmitter flooding can overwhelm the brain’s communication networks. “Very little prize, we didn’t do very much; too much reward, you don’t do much, ”Chase said.

The new study does not store an exact neural cause of choking, but it is the beginning of the stage when scientists will study the neuroscience made at high stakes in lab animals. In future experiments, having an animal model will make it easier to use electrodes to check brain speech.

“Do they show that this is the only way in which humans or animals go hungry? No – but it is in a way, ”Beilock said. The image of the underlying systems is important, he said, because many regions can be involved, depending on the situation. Considering the details that people interpret, it can explain how similar regions of the brain cause different types of choking. A failed motor function such as ball loss; a failed mental task like forgetting your answers in a job interview. The regions of the brain involved in each condition may overlap, but they may also be different and worth examining.

Rob Gray, a sport psychologist from Arizona State University who studies how stress affects human performance, said the appearance of monkey data more such as clear monitoring of athletes tapping. “That kind of non -violent movement is what you expect when you’re trying to control things agile from a height,” he said. Paralyze it by analysis: “You’re micromanage your body.”

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