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Hard to Break: Why Our Brains Make Habits Stick Hardcover – May 4, 2021

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews


"As he explores why humans evolved to be so habit-driven, Poldrack considers dopamine, which is crucial in forming habits for its impacts on brain plasticity; questions the efficacy of mindfulness (now a 'billion-dollar industry'); and covers the formation of addictions, which he calls 'habits gone bad.' Poldrack's study is strongest when he describes experiments on interrupting habit formation on a cellular level, which can potentially help one shed such undesirable behaviors as smoking and overeating. . . . This is a worthy intellectual adventure, one that’s well articulated for readers looking for rigorous study." ― Publishers Weekly


“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

"Although we love to attend to our conscious thoughts, our brains succeed mostly thanks to deeply burned-in programs―from our speech to our movements to our behaviors. Poldrack takes us on a wonderful journey, highlighting just how much of our lives are defined by habits, why they are so sticky, and what might (or might not) work to loosen their grip."―David Eagleman, author of Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain

“With brilliance and lucidity, Russell Poldrack tells the complex story of why we humans succumb to our huge library of habits and how we might tame some of them for a better life. Read this book!”―Michael S. Gazzaniga, author of The Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind

“In this authoritative and entertaining book, Russell Poldrack explains the breakthroughs that have revolutionized our understanding of how the brain builds and maintains habits. Essential reading for anyone interested in how the mind works.”―Daniel L. Schacter, author of The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Princeton University Press (May 4, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 232 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0691194327
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0691194325
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.2 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 11 ratings

About the author

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I'm a professor of Psychology at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Center for Reproducible Neuroscience ( My research uses brain imaging to understand how we learn and make decisions and how we exert self-control. I'm also interested in developing methods for better understanding how to relate brain and mental function. Some projects I have developed include the Cognitive Atlas (htttp:// and OpenfMRI (

Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5
11 global ratings

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Reviewed in the United States on June 28, 2021
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