What is the Optimal State for Performance?
Over 100 years ago, two investigators, Yerkes and Dodson, proposed that intermediate levels of arousal are the optimal state for performance of difficult detection tasks. Too little or too much arousal decreases performance and optimal performance on the task, if it is difficult, occurs with an intermediate level of arousal and/or stress.
Surprisingly, the cortical mechanisms of this effect have never been investigated. Here we reveal how the state of the brain continuously fluctuates and how this determines the Yerkes-Dodson relationship of optimal performance.