In October 2012, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) set out to find if they could exercise complete control over habitual behaviors in mice.
By inhibiting a small region of the prefrontal cortex — region of the brain responsible for planning and thought — the scientists were able to break the mice’s habits, but, to their surprise, the mice immediately began forming new behavior patterns.
Until now, psychologists and behavioral therapists believed that habits were hidden in the illusive “subconscious.”
But the MIT study shows that the brain is not just aware of habits: it controls them completely, moment by moment. And no matter how long the habits have existed, we can now shut them off, as by the flip of a switch.