By | STEPHEN J. BRONNER | www.inverse.com
HOW DO HABITS FORM IN THE BRAIN? The process involves various cells and processes that help cement our daily rituals into routines. Dartmouth researchers recently discovered that the dorsolateral striatum, a region of the brain, experiences a short burst of activity when new habits are formed.
According to the research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, it takes as little as half of a second for this burst to occur. And as a habit becomes stronger, the activity burst increases. The Dartmouth researchers found that habits can be controlled depending on how active the dorsolateral striatum is.
“Our findings illustrate how habits can be controlled in a tiny time window when they are first set in motion. The strength of the brain activity in this window determines whether the full behavior becomes a habit or not,” said senior author Kyle S. Smith, an associate professor and director of graduate studies in the department of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth, in a summary of the research. “The results demonstrate how activity in the dorsolateral striatum when habits are formed really does control how habitual animals are, providing evidence of a causal relationship.”