Virtual Event: Russell A. Poldrack
Hard to Break:
Why Our Brains Make Habits Stick
in conversation with ELIZABETH PHELPS
May 20, 2021
5:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Library welcome RUSSELL A. POLDRACK—the Albert Ray Lang Professor in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University and Director of the Stanford Center for Reproducible Neuroscience—for a discussion of his latest book, Hard to Break: Why Our Brains Make Habits Stick. He will be joined in conversation by ELIZABETH PHELPS, the Pershing Square Professor of Human Neuroscience at Harvard University.
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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Hard to Break on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About Hard to Break
We all have habits we’d like to break, but for many of us it can be nearly impossible to do so. There is a good reason for this: the brain is a habit-building machine. In Hard to Break, leading neuroscientist Russell Poldrack provides an engaging and authoritative account of the science of how habits are built in the brain, why they are so hard to break, and how evidence-based strategies may help us change unwanted behaviors.
Hard to Break offers a clear-eyed tour of what neuroscience tells us about habit change and debunks “easy fixes” that aren’t backed by science. It explains how dopamine is essential for building habits and how the battle between habits and intentional goal-directed behaviors reflects a competition between different brain systems. Along the way, we learn how cues trigger habits; why we should make rules, not decisions; how the stimuli of the modern world hijack the brain’s habit machinery and lead to drug abuse and other addictions; and how neuroscience may one day enable us to hack our habits. Shifting from the individual to society, the book also discusses the massive habit changes that will be needed to address the biggest challenges of our time.
Moving beyond the hype to offer a deeper understanding of the biology of habits in the brain, Hard to Break reveals how we might be able to make the changes we desire—and why we should have greater empathy with ourselves and others who struggle to do so.
Praise for Hard to Break
“An authoritative guide to habit, with vivid examples and an author who really knows his stuff! Russell Poldrack is the rare scientist who can push the frontier of knowledge forward and also reach back, offer his hand, and help the rest of us catch up.” —Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
“Hard to Break is a brilliant and supremely readable account of the neuroscience of behavior change, combining the latest science with practical advice, and—above all—hope in the bottom of the box." —Daniel J. Levitin, author of Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives
“This book is for anyone who has ever wondered why self-control isn’t enough. In clear, engaging writing shot through with striking personal experiences, entertaining examples, and the latest neuroscience findings, Poldrack introduces us to the hidden brain systems that control our behavior.” —Wendy Wood, author of Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick
The Harvard Science Book Talks series is a collaboration between the Harvard University Division of Science, the Harvard Library, and Harvard Book Store. The series features talks by the authors of recently published books on a variety of science-related topics and is open to both the Harvard community and to the general public. Typically, lectures are followed by a book signing with the author and refreshments. Learn more and watch recordings of past talks here.
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