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Rebecca Saxe

Rebecca Saxe, PhD

Theory of Mind pioneer. Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at MIT.

“The only reason to do science is because it’s the only way to find out the answer, and you care what the answer is.”

Rebecca Saxe is the John W. Jarve Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and an Associate Investigator of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. She studies human social cognition, particularly the neural basis of abstract thought and how we assess the mental states of other people, using a combination of behavioral testing methods and brain imaging technologies.

Best known for her research on Theory of Mind, Saxe has authored numerous papers on the cognitive neuroscience of social cognition and moral judgement. She provided the first example of a brain region called the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) that is specialized for constructing abstract thoughts and is currently exploring its possible role in autism. Her work also focuses on the development of the human brain during early infancy.

She has been honored with the Troland Research Award, as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and in Popular Science’s Brilliant 10 list of top young scientists.

Saxe obtained her B.A. in psychology and philosophy from the University of Oxford and her Ph.D. in cognitive sciences from MIT, before becoming a Harvard Junior Fellow and returning to MIT as a faculty member.

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