Judson Brewer | The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Cupcakes to Smartphones, the Mechanisms Underlying How Mindfulness Helps Change Habits

Monday, March 2, 2020 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Old Chapel, UMass Amherst (with 1-2 pm reception afterwards)

Judson BrewerWe are all vulnerable to craving. Whether it’s a compulsion to constantly check social media, overeat, smoke, excessively drink, or any other behavior, we may find ourselves uncontrollably repeating. Why are bad habits so hard to overcome? Can we learn how our minds work, and even tap into this very process to find a key to conquer the cravings we know are unhealthy for us and foster our natural capacities for awareness and kindness?
Drawing on his clinical work, research studies and development of next-generation therapeutics for habit change, Dr. Brewer will discuss the underlying behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms of why habits are formed and how mindfulness can paradoxically tap into these very processes to uproot them. He will also discuss how we can apply these insights to our own lives.

Judson Brewer, MD, Ph.D,  is a psychiatrist and internationally-renowned expert in the science of mindfulness, habit change, and the “science of self-mastery” for addiction. Judson has developed novel treatments to help individuals with substance abuse and eating disorders. He has studied the neural mechanisms of mindfulness using standard and real-­time EEG and fMRI, and is translating these findings into clinical use. In 2012, Judson founded Claritas MindSciences to combine mindfulness and neurofeedback techniques for habit change; the latest apps include programs for overcoming stress and emotional eating (www.goeatrightnow.com) and quitting smoking (www.cravingtoquit.com).

He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, trained US Olympic coaches, and his work has been featured on 60 Minutes, TED (4th most viewed TED talk of 2016), TEDMED, TEDx, Time magazine (top 100 new health discoveries of 2013), Forbes, BBC, NPR, Businessweek and others. He is the author of the 2017 book, The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits.

Brewer gives Ted talk

Judson Brewer’s TED talk: A simple way to break a bad habit

He is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center and associate professor in psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown University, research affiliate at MIT, and was previously Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness and associate professor in Medicine and Psychiatry at UMass Medical School.

Research Area: 

Behavioral Neuroscience
Clinical Psychology