Habits are behaviors wired so deeply in our brains that we perform them automatically. This allows you to follow the same route to work every day without thinking about it, liberating your brain to ponder other things, such as what to make for dinner.
However, the brain’s executive command center does not completely relinquish control of habitual behavior. A new study from MIT neuroscientists has found that a small region of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, where most thought and planning occurs, is responsible for moment-by-moment control of which habits are switched on at a given time.
Every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a habit loop, which is a three-part process. First, there's a cue or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold. Then there's the routine, which is the behavior itself. The third step is the reward, something that your brain likes that helps it remember the habit loop in the future.
Habits drive our lives — so much so that sometimes we might want to break the habit, as the saying goes, and experience something new. But habits are a useful tool if we know how to design or modify them. Join us in our next free masterclass on Triggers and Drivers, The Art of Change, for more. Stay tuned!