In sports, on a game show, or just on the job, what causes people to choke when the stakes are high? A new study by researchers at Caltech suggests that when there are high financial incentives to succeed, people can become so afraid of losing their potentially lucrative reward that their performance suffers.
Our cognitive abilities and decision-making skills can be dramatically hindered in social settings where we feel that we are being ranked or assigned a status level. These findings fly in the face of long-held ideas about intelligence and cognition that regard IQ as a stable, predictive measure of mental horsepower.
Researchers from Caltech have isolated a very specific difference in how high-functioning people with autism think about other people, finding that—in actuality—they don’t tend to think about what others think of them at all.
When making decisions based on multiple interdependent factors—such as what combination of stocks and bonds to invest in—humans look at how the factors correlate with each other, according to a new study by researchers from Caltech and University College London.
Some people feel compelled to pet every furry animal they see on the street, while others jump at the mere sight of a shark or snake on the television screen. No matter what your response is to animals, it may be thanks to a specific part of your brain that is hardwired to rapidly detect creatures of the nonhuman kind. In fact, researchers from Caltech and UCLA report that neurons throughout the amygdala—a center in the brain known for processing emotional reactions—respond preferentially to images of animals.
Choosing what to have for dinner, it turns out, is a complex neurological exercise. But, according to researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), it's one that can be influenced by a simple shifting of attention toward the healthy side of life. And that shift may provide strategies to help us all make healthier choices—not just in terms of the foods we eat, but in other areas, like whether or not we pick up a cigarette.
Where does violence live in the brain? And where, precisely, does it lay down its biological roots? With the help of a new genetic tool that uses light to turn nerve cells on and off, a team led by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has tracked down the specific location of the neurons that elicit attack behaviors in mice, and defined the relationship of those cells to the brain circuits that play a key role in mating behaviors.
We've all heard the predictions: e-commerce is going to be the death of traditional commerce; online shopping spells the end of the neighborhood brick-and-mortar store. While it's true that online commerce has had an impact on all types of retail stores, it's not time to bring out the wrecking ball quite yet, says a team of researchers from Caltech.
The process of learning requires the sophisticated ability to constantly update our expectations of future rewards so we may make accurate predictions about those rewards in the face of a changing environment. Although exactly how the brain orchestrates this process remains unclear, a new study by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) suggests that a combination of two distinct learning strategies guides our behavior.
Parents pursuing adoption within the United States have strong preferences regarding the types of babies they will apply for, tending to choose non-African-American girls, and favoring babies who are close to being born as opposed to those who have already been born or who are early in gestation. These preferences are significant and can be quantified in terms of the amount of money the potential adoptive parents are willing to pay in finalizing their adoption.