Ein interessanter Bereich ist aus meiner Sicht der Bereich der Gewohnheiten. Dabei handelt es sich um bestimmte Verhaltensweisen, die so automatisiert worden sind, dass sie zum einen sehr schnell ablaufen können und zum anderen Gehirnrechenkapazität sparen:

Hier eine kleine Darstellung dazu:

Inside the brain-and-cognitive-sciences department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are what, to the casual observer, look like dollhouse versions of surgical theaters. There are rooms with tiny scalpels, small drills and miniature saws. Even the operating tables are petite, as if prepared for 7-year-old surgeons. Inside those shrunken O.R.’s, neurologists cut into the skulls of anesthetized rats, implanting tiny sensors that record the smallest changes in the activity of their brains.

An M.I.T. neuroscientist named Ann Graybiel told me that she and her colleagues began exploring habits more than a decade ago by putting their wired rats into a T-shaped maze with chocolate at one end. The maze was structured so that each animal was positioned behind a barrier that opened after a loud click. The first time a rat was placed in the maze, it would usually wander slowly up and down the center aisle after the barrier slid away, snifng in corners and scratching at walls. It appeared to smell the chocolate but couldn’t gure out how to nd it. There was no discernible pattern in the rat’s meanderings and no indication it was working hard to find the treat.

The probes in the rats’ heads, however, told a different story. While each animal wandered through the maze, its brain was working furiously. Every time a rat sniffed the air or scratched a wall, the neurosensors inside the animal’s head exploded with activity. As the scientists repeated the experiment, again and again, the rats eventually stopped snifng corners and making wrong turns and began to zip through the maze with more and more speed. And within their brains, something unexpected occurred: as each rat learned how to complete the maze more quickly, its mental activity decreased. As the path became more and more automatic — as it became a habit — the rats started thinking less and less.

This process, in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine, is called “chunking.” There are dozens, if not hundreds, of behavioral chunks we rely on every day. Some are simple: you automatically put toothpaste on your toothbrush before sticking it in your mouth. Some, like making the kids’ lunch, are a little more complex. Still others are so complicated that it’s remarkable to realize that a habit could have emerged at all

Wir haben uns also Gewohnheiten zugelegt um Handlungen zu vereinfachen und auch die Arbeitsweise des Gehirns zu vereinfachen. Es kann auf bewährte Unterprogramme zurückgreifen, wenn es in eine bestimmte Situation kommt.

Hier auch noch etwas interessanter zu deren Entstehung:

The process within our brains that creates habits is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain gure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

Over time, this loop — cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward — becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become neurologically intertwined until a sense of craving emerges. What’s unique about cues and rewards, however, is how subtle they can be. Neurological studies like the ones in Graybiel’s lab have revealed that some cues span just milliseconds. And rewards can range from the obvious (like the sugar rush that a morning doughnut habit provides) to the infinitesimal (like the barely noticeable — but measurable — sense of relief the brain experiences after successfully navigating the driveway). Most cues and rewards, in fact, happen so quickly and are so slight that we are hardly aware of them at all.

But our neural systems notice and use them to build automatic behaviors. Habits aren’t destiny — they can be ignored, changed or replaced. But it’s also true that once the loop is established and a habit emerges, your brain stops fully participating in decision-making. So unless you deliberately ght a habit — unless you nd new cues and rewards — the old pattern will unfold automatically. “We’ve done experiments where we trained rats to run down a maze until it was a habit, and then we extinguished the habit by changing the placement of the reward,” Graybiel told me. “Then one day, we’ll put the reward in the old place and put in the rat and, by golly, the old habit will re-emerge right away. Habits never really disappear.”

Das zeigt, dass Gewohnheiten schwer zu überwinden sind. Am besten geht es wohl indem man die Anzeichen und die Belohnungen verändert.

Was auch interessant sein könnte in Hinblick auf die „passiven Theorien“ im Feminismus. Wenn wir bestimmte gesellschaftliche Regeln verinnerlicht hätten, etwa auch, weil sie unserem biologischen Geschlecht zusagen, dann würde es nicht reichen, wenn andere ihre Privilegien überdenken. Um aus dem „loop“, dem Kreislauf auszubrechen müsste derjenige selbst an sich arbeiten, für andere Belohnungen offen sein, sich neue Gewohnheiten zulegen.