At MIT, Rebecca Saxe studies human brain development, in order to understand how the human mind is built. The challenges and rewards of this research connect her experiences, as a scientist and as a mother.
Rebecca Saxe is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, and an associate member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Saxe was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, before studying Psychology, Philosophy, and Physiology at Oxford University in Oxford, UK. She did her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at MIT, and then was a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows. Her research addresses the human brain’s astonishing capacity for complex abstract thought. She is especially known for her work on “Theory of Mind”, people’s ability to think about the thoughts, beliefs, plans, hopes, and emotions of other people. Central questions in this research include: how does an adult’s brain construct thoughts about thoughts? How do these capacities develop in infancy and childhood? How is this aspect of brain development affected by the environment, and by disease?Full Bio