A recent article in the New York Times discussed the phenomenon by which some kids can act cool under pressure, while others panic. Given today's testing culture, it is critical to understand why some kids can handle pressure while others, just as bright, tend to dissolve into anxiety and fear. Scientists have begun to focus on a gene that controls how quickly dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is removed from a part of the brain that controls decision-making. It turns out that people vary in how quickly dopamine is cleared away, and this variation makes them more or less likely to panic in stressful situations. The good news is that biology is not destiny: There are ways to help all kinds of kids remain cool when the heat is on.
Photo: Getting test results/Bruno Vincent, Getty Images