What part of the brain is responsible for the formation of habits?
a. the hippocampus
b. the basal ganglia
c. the amygdala
d. all of the above
Answer: b. The Basal Ganglia
The myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit is too prescribed to be true, but it does highlight an important point: regular repetition is an important ingredient in developing a new habit. The amount of time it actually takes to form a habit depends upon the difficulty of the task and the level of commitment. It does require effort to form new habits. But with concerted, disciplined effort over a period of time, frequently repeated behaviors can become automatic. New positive behaviors become habit thanks to the basal ganglia.
The basal ganglia are a group of subcortical structures on both sides of the brain that are best known for coordinating movement and cognitive tasks. They facilitate learning with the help of an important neurotransmitter, dopamine. By operating in the background while learning a motor task or habit, neurons in the basal ganglia are actively connecting with neurons in the prefrontal cortex. But after a while, it seems that less activity is necessary to perform the task or behavior. This is because it has been “chunked” or organized into a specific associated grouping – a pattern that can now be executed by the basal ganglia without significant involvement from the prefrontal cortex.
Intuitively, you understand that this happens. Think of riding a bike: when you sit on your seat and position your hands on the handlebars, your whole body knows what to do without thinking. You can easily get in the groove. That’s because the movement is coordinated without the conscious effort of the prefrontal cortex that was so necessary as you were first learning to ride. Now, the basal ganglia take control, freeing your prefrontal cortex to watch out for any dangers you might encounter.
Looking for suggestions on making regular iLs Focus sessions a habit for your client or child? Consistency is the key.
- Start your sessions at a regular time
- Do it in the same location
- Make it fun! iLs Playbook activities are designed to be fun, and the dopamine released from an enjoyable activity can help a habit to form more quickly.
The new Focus 30 can make building your iLs habit easier. The Focus 30 hosts all iLs Focus programs organized into 30-minute sessions. Each program has the same total hours of listening as the Focus 60 split into shorter sessions.