Ch1 L5: Habits (Part 1 – why we create habits)

  1. so far, we’ve spent four lessons on the reaction which hasn’t been executed and we’ve been experiencing the thing [1] for a tiny fraction of a second. Since we know nothing about either the thing or our ability, therefore the level of our confidence is 0 [2], by default, we’d pick the flight reaction [3].

giphy

  1. However, this is a thought experiment and even animals are evolved enough not to find a rose dangerous. Because it is stationary. It’s very important to consider change [4] as the governing factor in the fight-flight (FF) response. [5,6]
  2. This is the first step in evolution: to react to changes. Those whose solutions were successful survived and transferred them through genes to their progenies.
  3. In the triune model of the brain[7], proposed by MacLean [8], there are three distinct areas which have been related to the three evolutionary eras: the reptilian complex [9], the paleomammalian complex (limbic system) [10], and the neomammalian complex (neocortex) [11].

Triune Brain-01_0

  1. In a nutshell, the reptilian complex (Basal Ganglia) mainly regulates our instinctive and automated reactions along with the brainstem. We definitely are not going through the biological details of the brain; however, automation is one of the most important functions of the brain that we can learn many things from. Automation leads to habits. We might not be able to control our physiological routines, but we can create or replace habits.
  2. Charles Duhigg [12], in “The Power of Habit” [13], has elaborated how habits form and function. Some MIT researchers carried out an experiment on some rats. They put each rat in a T-shaped maze with a piece of chocolate at one end, then they monitored the brain activity of the rat.

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  1. After a click, the partition disappeared and the rats started to rather playfully sniff around. They directly didn’t go towards the chocolate. However, the brain scan showed a higher level of engagement but to many new stimuli from the environment [14]. After several times when it became habitual, the rats directly found the chocolate and the brain activity remarkably decreased.
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A comparison between the brain activity of the rat before and after formation of the habit

  1. A quick analysis: the rats needed to make sure that the maze was the same, it wasn’t a trap or something; so, the high activity after the click was due to ticking off the similarities; in other words, identification. The spike, in the end, showed the pleasure of eating the chocolate, but the routine was done comparatively effortlessly.

Since I know that we’re used to the fast culture which I’m gonna criticize later, I’d rather split the lesson about habits into two parts. So, in the next part, we’ll go through the pros and cons of habits and how we can control and modify them.

Exercise 5:

  1. Think about habits and how their creation can be explained by minergie. [15]
  2. Why would Steve Jobs wear the same type of outfit for every (?) presentation since 1998? Why do we laugh at Sheldon Cooper [16] and his over-scheduled routines?

steve-turtleneck

  1. Think about the pros and cons of habit to be ready for the next lesson.

Footnotes:

[1] Link to Ch1 L2. Refer to paragraph 21.

[2] Link to Ch1 L3. Refer to paragraphs 38 – 40.

[3] Here we can study another effect of societies on individuals. If you’re taught to make fight your default reaction or you knew that running away would bring you shame, then by default you’d go for the fight which can happen physically or verbally. If we think that losing an argument is embarrassing, we’ll try our best even using all the unethical methods such as fallacies, lies, or accusations to win it.

[4] Change is a super-concept of motion (we will exhaustively discuss concept which is the most important part of the course). It’s again very important to know that we define a certain amount of things normal, so we don’t react to them. For example, we don’t even feel that there’s around 100,000 Pa air pressure on us; but our brain reacts to the change in the air pressure. The same thing happens if temperature, light intensity or other things change. As you know, motion is the change in position.

[5] Another important factor that we need to consider is that we’d currently know nothing about dangers either (our memory is totally empty). If we’d had been attacked by an animal, say, a jaguar jumping out of a bush, then the sight of a bush would be frightening, though it’s motionless.

[6] That’s why we’re advised not to move when we face a dangerous animal. Because primarily motion indicates danger which triggers fear consequently the fight-flight response. A fun fact: It’s proven that bulls are colorblind; so, the redness of the cape doesn’t agitate them in a bullfighting, but its motion does. You can find more information about it in the [link].

[7] Link

[8] Link

[9] Link

[10] Link

[11] Link

[12] Link

[13] Link

[14] The most epiphanic moment of reading this brilliant book happened when I compared the rat’s reaction to the new maze with students who learn a topic for the first time and they seem not to pay attention but their brain must be working hard, considering many other aspects and connecting them, what we, as their teachers, might not be aware of and label them being playful, lazy or something.

[15] Link to the first post, Refer to Paragraph 10.

[16] Link to Sheldon Cooper, the leading actor of “The Big Bang Theory” sitcom.

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