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Habits: You two were arguing, I just kept walking. Felt like the right thing to do.Photograph by evrymmnt / Shutterstock

INT. HOME OFFICE—DAY

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BODY, a middle-aged woman, is working at a computer, trying to finish a plan for the household budget.

Habits

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Oh! It’s time to walk the dog.

BODY stops typing.

Central Executive

Uh, oh right. The body has to walk the dog. Come on, girl.

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BODY walks outside with the DOG on a leash. The DOG is a pug.

EXT. THE SIDEWALK—DAY

Default Mode Network 

How are we going to afford to keep the second car? Maybe we should cancel one of our three streaming services.

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Reward System 

Oh, look at that sun. What a nice day! Let’s stop and let the sun shine on the face before we walk into the shadow of that building.

Habits 

No, let’s keep walking.

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Reward System 

No, let’s stop—

Central Executive 

We’re walking. The dog needs to go.

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Default Mode Network 

Does Disney+ really have enough content to warrant the monthly fee they’re charging? The kids already own half of Disney’s catalog on DVD…

BODY sees a discarded aluminum can across the street.

Central Executive

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Aluminum is, environmentally speaking, very costly to produce, but is one of the most recyclable materials out there. Lots of energy gets preserved….

Habits 

Keep walking.

Central Executive 

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The body should go pick up that can and carry it home to the recycle bin.

Reward System 

But it’s all the way across the street! It’s a busy road!

Central Executive 

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It’s the right thing to do.

Habits 

Let’s just keep walking.

Central Executive 

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Think of how good you’ll feel when the body tosses that can into the recycle bin!

Reward System 

But that’s like 11 minutes away.

Habits 

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I’m with Reward System on this one. Ignore it.

Central Executive 

Fine.

Default Mode Network 

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We’re cancelling Disney+ when we get home.

Reward System 

What about the next season of The Mandalorian?

BODY keeps walking DOG. A cold wind blows by.

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Reward System 

Ah! The body should have worn a coat.

Central Executive 

That’s true. Why didn’t it?

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Habits 

It’s been pretty mild lately. I didn’t think of it.

Reward System 

Let’s go home.

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Central Executive 

The dog hasn’t done her thing yet.

Habits 

Let’s keep walking down this street like we do every day.

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Reward System 

I’m cold. I hate this.

Central Executive 

You got your way with the can, now shut up and leave us alone.

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BODY walks into an intersection without looking.

Reward System 

You’re cold too, not just me. Body, turn around.

Central Executive 

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You can take it. The dog—

A car stops just short of the dog, honking its horn.

Central Executive 

What happened?

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Habits 

You two were arguing, I just kept walking. Felt like the right thing to do.

BODY waves apologetically and moves out of the intersection.

Reward System 

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That was scary. You should have been paying attention.

Central Executive 

But I was—Arrrrg.

DOG finally pees. The next three lines are spoken simultaneously.

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Habits 

Time to go home!

Reward System 

I want to go home!

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Central Executive 

We should go home now!

BODY walks home and gets back to work on the document.

INT. HOME OFFICE—DAY

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Central Executive 

The body has to get this budget squared away…

Default Mode Network 

The body is going to cancel Disney+. That should help.

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Central Executive 

Thanks.

BODY types for a minute.

Reward System 

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…I’m hungry.

Jim Davies is a professor at the Department of Cognitive Science at Carleton University. He is the author of Imagination: The Science of Your Mind’s Greatest Power and Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make us Laugh, Movies Make us Cry, and Religion Makes us Feel One with the Universe. He is co-host of the award-winning podcast Minding the Brain. His new book, Being the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are: The Science of a Better You, comes out in February 2021.

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