Understanding Habit Formation

by Savitha C Muppala on  September 30, 2011 at 8:39 AM Research News
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A recent study has revealed the manner in which our habits are formed in the brain.

Researchers Ann Graybiel and Mark Howe at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believe that habits are formed when brainwaves slow down, New Scientist reported.
 Understanding Habit Formation
Understanding Habit Formation

When a group of neurons fire simultaneously, the activity appears as a brainwave. Different brainwave-frequencies are linked to different tasks in the brain.

To track how brainwaves change during learning, Graybiel and Howe used electrodes to analyse brainwaves in a study of rats while they were taught to navigate a maze.

As rats were learning the task their brain activity showed bursts of fast gamma waves.

Once the rats mastered the task, their brainwaves slowed to almost a quarter of their initial frequency, becoming beta waves.

Graybiel's team suspects this transition reflects when learning becomes habit.

According to Graybiel, the slower brainwaves may be because the brain is weeding out excess activity to refine behaviour.

She suggests it might be possible to boost the rate at which you learn a skill by enhancing such beta-wave activity.

Source: ANI

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