Habit & Behaviour

A Trans Disciplinary Research Lab

Understanding the brain is now one of the greatest challenges in modern science. Habits play a significant role in brain functioning and the way the brain processes various stimuli, which get manifested through behavior. Habit is a propensity that is molded by environmental circumstances, similar to instinct. It gets transmitted culturally to a great extent rather than biologically. Thus, habit is the enormous flywheel of society, its most precious conservative agent. The mechanisms of habit are mostly unconscious, but they may press on our awareness. Habits are submerged repertoires of potential behavior; they can be triggered or reinforced through various stimuli from the environment.
In 1949, Donald Hebb proposed a neuroscientific explanation of learning and its association with behavior, which was published in "The Organization of Behavior." This theory is popularly known as Hebbian Learning Theory or Hebb's Rule of Cell Assembly Theory. The theory attempts to showcase the neuropsychological underpinnings of learning and explains that when our brain learns something new, neurons are activated and connected with other neurons, forming a neural network structure where the connections are initially weak. However, they get stronger each time through repeated stimulus and can make certain habits or actions more intuitive. Therefore, exposure to certain stimuli plays a significant role in neural activation and the creation of neural networks. This can lead an individual to a cognitive state where they are completely immersed in a certain flow of action. The process has been well-explained through scholarly work conducted in the field of positive psychology and is referred to as Flow Theory.
The formation of habits through a neuroscientific approach and their connection with complex cognition and tasks is important. This also creates a requirement to explore and understand the concept of the Habit Discontinuity hypothesis. This concept is highly relevant in the field of behavioral transformation through a change in habits and can significantly contribute to social change. In the late 1930s, Kurt Lewin proposed the "unfreeze - change - freeze" model in the domain of social change. Lewin provided an interesting analysis of the change process through Field Theory, which can also be explained through experience or exposure to certain stimuli.
The underlying mechanisms that control coordinated and purposeful behavior and complex cognition are major grey areas in the field of neuroscience. A significant amount of transdisciplinary scholarly research is happening across the world to explore and understand how complex cognitive behavior arises from the distributed activity of billions of neurons in the brain. Simple behaviors can be explained through relatively simple and straightforward interactions between the brain's input and output systems. However, complex cognition, higher-order analytical and creative thinking, and strategic and critical thinking with a meaningful balance of emotion through the lenses of neural activities, still remain unexplored to a great extent.