Hard To Break: Why Our Brains Make Habits Stick

Princeton Univ. May 2021. 232p. ISBN 9780691194325. $24.95. PSYCH
Poldrack (Albert Ray Lang Professor of Psychology, Stanford Univ.; The New Mind Readers) has written a thorough survey of the psychological and neurological research into habit. Interesting and challenging in its level of detail, this book explains current understandings of the way habits are created by the brain, from anatomy to neurotransmitters, covering both animal and human studies. Poldrack challenges current popular understandings of self-control and addiction and examines the research behind mindfulness, which he finds lacking—a common outcome of his discussions of the state of the field. His purpose appears to be, in part, to critique the research and explain how often scientific studies fall short of providing generalizable findings. Neuroscience has developed rapidly over the past 20 years, but psychological research, which has a longer track record, has discovered some tried-and-true methods for changing habits, which this book shares with the reader.
VERDICT Readers looking for easy advice on habit change can turn to plenty of other options in the popular psychology genre. Those who are deeply interested in the brain and neuroscience research should enjoy this stimulating work.
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