Sigma: 2021-07-13

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On Task: How Our Brain Gets Things Done

David Badre

July 13, 2021 at 7:30 PM at


How do we plan out the actions to reach a goal? Why is it hard to multitask? Why did life during the pandemic feel mentally exhausting? What will allow us to adjust back to life in person again? The human brain has a unique ability to devise new rules, plans, and goals and then take the right actions to carry them out. We often do this on the fly, performing new tasks that we’ve never done and solving problems we’ve never confronted before. This ability lies at the heart of our species’ unique ingenuity and intelligence. Our capacity to connect our goals with our actions depends on a function called cognitive control, and its mechanisms in the brain remain one of the enduring mysteries in cognitive science and neuroscience. In this lecture, David Badre will introduce the neuroscience of cognitive control. He will discuss current accounts of how the brain can support this function, and well as considering its impact on our lives and the way that we get things done.


David Badre is Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences at Brown University, where he is also on the faculty of the Carney Institute for Brain Science and is a trainer in the Neuroscience Graduate Program. He received his PhD from MIT in 2005 and did his postdoctoral fellowship at UC Berkeley before joining Brown as faculty in 2008. His laboratory studies the neuroscience of cognitive control and executive function. Dr. Badre’s research has been recognized by several awards, including an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in Neuroscience, a James S. McDonnell Scholar Award in Understanding Human Cognition, and the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Young Investigator Award. He is author of the book, On Task: How Our Brain Gets Things Done (November 2020), about the neuroscience of cognitive control.

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