How Does The Brain Form New Habits?
'Compounding is the greatest mathematical discovery of all time.' These are Albert Einstein's words and he had a point - everything that everyone does on a daily basis comes down to a single action that we decided to repeat over and over.
So, how are habits formed in the brain?
When you begin a new activity, the brain forms neural pathways, which are connections between neurons.
At first, when the neural pathways are 'new', our brain has to consciously think about the actions that it's taking. This happens in the prefrontal cortex.
As the action is repeated, a part of the brain called the Striatum releases a chemical that inhibits the 'thinking' part of the brain. Not only does this make the new activity come more naturally to you - making it a habit - it frees up the brain to think of other things!
When we form a new habit, it's because long-term potentiation (LTP) happens. This is a process whereby connections to the neural pathways mentioned above become stronger the more that they are activated. This process is also linked to learning and memory.
So that's the neuroscience behind it...but how can you make habits stick? Find out in my next post!