A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Brains Meet Brawn


A neuroscience PhD student and competitive boxer researches how the brain processes combinations—like the ones she practices at the gym—to better understand cognitive disorders.

When competitive boxer Hannah Doyle PhD’26 throws punches in the ring, she knows precisely what her brain is doing to enable her body to string together sequences like jab, cross, hook, cross, and other winning combinations.

That’s because as a neuroscience PhD student at Brown University, Doyle studies cognitive control mechanisms and sequential processing—which just happens to relate to what has become her favorite hobby.

Doyle discovered boxing during the COVID-19 pandemic while looking for gyms offering challenging classes and connections with other people. She found both at Elite Boxing and Fitness in North Attleboro, MA, where she also met coaches who instructed her in the technical aspects of boxing.

The sequences, in particular, captured her interest.

“I liked how choreographed boxing seems,” Doyle says, “especially at the beginning when I was learning combinations and figuring out how to string together combinations of offensive and defensive moves. I really enjoyed feeling like I could nail down a specific combination of moves.”

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