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ImageWhistling while you work could help you do your job better, suggests a new study.

According to a leading psychologist, whistling or singing helps distract the mind from trying too hard and prevents mental overload.

The suggestion is based on a study into the phenomenon of 'choking' - the moment when a footballer misses a critical penalty or a top student flunks a vital exam.

Dr Sian Beilock of the University of Chicago argues far from being down to ''just nerves'', choking occurs when the brain finds itself with too many pieces of information to process, resulting in ''paralysis by analysis''.

The same holds true when presenting a vital sales pitch, making an important putt or doing an audition.

"Choking is sub-optimal performance, not just poor performance," the Daily Mail quoted Beilock, who used brain scans to study what is going on the mind during high pressure situations in the lab, as saying.

"It's a performance that is inferior to what you can do and have done in the past and occurs when you feel pressure to get everything right."

Some of the most memorable moments of choking occur in sports when the whole world is watching, she said.

Even singing helps stop parts of the brain that might interfere with performance from taking over, she said.

She has dubbed the phenomenon paralysis by analysis - when people try to control every aspect of what they are doing in a bid to ensure success.

The researchers found that the brain can also sabotage performance because too much pressure is put on ''working memory'' - part of the prefrontal cortex, which focuses explicitly on the task in hand.

Although the most talented people usually have the most working memory, anxieties and worries overload it, meaning the brain is no longer able to perform.

The research features in a new book Choke: What Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting it Right When You Have To.

Image Source: Thinkstock photos/Getty Images
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