Habits and Neurons

Donald Hebb a neuropsychologist mentioned that Neurons that fire together wire together. Once wired they are easily expressed. This is what happens when we routinely practice. I remember learning my guitar and how my fingers will never cooperate, but as I started practicing everyday I began ‘fluent’ in the art of finger picking style guitar. Not that I can play well. I’m still an amateur but you get what I’m saying. Its not the muscle memory but the way the neurons are wired. Repeating a habit leads to clear physical changes in the brain.

There are a lot of that talks about how our brains are developed for a specific task when we practice. For example, London taxi drivers have a good sense of direction and because of this geospatial knowledge (spatial memory) their hippocampus is bigger. Similarly, mathematicians have a increased gray matter in the inferior parietal lobule which plays a key role in computation and calculation. Also one important point to note is that brain adapt as they are used and atrophy as they are abandoned. Every time when repeat an action, you are activating a particular neural circuit associated with the habit.

So its not how long does it take to build a new habit? But what people really should be asking is, how many does it take to form a new habit.

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