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Break bad habits by hacking the autopilot in your brain

Break bad habits by hacking the autopilot in your brain

作者:铁汲蟋  时间:2019-03-01 09:07:02  人气:

SCS Studio/Getty By Anil Ananthaswamy So much of what we do in our day-to-day lives, whether it be driving, making coffee or touch-typing, happens without the need for conscious thought. Unlike many of the brain’s other unconscious talents, these are skills that have had to be learned before the brain can automate them. How it does this might provide a method for us to think our way out of bad habits. Ann Graybiel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her colleagues have shown that a region deep inside the brain called the striatum is key to habit forming. When you undertake an action, the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in planning complex tasks, communicates with the striatum, which sends the necessary signals to enact the movement. Over time, input from the prefrontal circuits fades, to be replaced by loops linking the striatum to the sensorimotor cortex. The loops, together with the memory circuits, allow us to carry out the behaviour without having to think about it. Or, to put it another way, practice makes perfect. No thinking required. The upside of this two-part system is that once we no longer need to focus our attention on a frequent task, the spare processing power can be used for other things. It comes with a downside, however. Similar circuitry is involved in turning all kinds of behaviours into habits,