Self Help

Power of Habit, The - Charles Duhigg

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Matheus Puppe

· 49 min read



Here is a summary of the contents of The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg:

The book is divided into three parts exploring habits at the individual, organizational, and societal levels. Part 1 examines the neuroscience of habits and how they can be changed by focusing on keystone habits. Part 2 looks at how companies like Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Alcoa and Target have harnessed habits to transform their businesses. Part 3 discusses social movements and how habits spread through communities, using examples like Saddleback Church and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The introduction profiles a woman named Lisa Allen who overhauled her life by focusing on breaking her smoking habit, which led to cascading changes in other areas like diet, exercise and work. Neurological research is exploring how changing habits alters brain patterns. Overall, the book seeks to explain why habits exist and how understanding their power can enable profound personal and social transformation.

  • The scientists were studying Lisa’s brain scans to gain insights into where habits reside in the mind and how decisions become automatic behaviors. They felt they were on the brink of an important discovery.

  • Many daily activities and choices are actually habits formed through repetition, not conscious decisions. William James has studied habits extensively. Recent research has greatly improved understanding of how habits work and how to change them.

  • The story then describes how an Army Major in Iraq worked to change crowds’ habitual behaviors by removing food vendors from public plazas, in order to prevent riots from erupting. He viewed everything through the lens of habits due to his military training.

  • The major believed understanding habits had profoundly changed how he sees the world. He worked to intentionally form good habits and influence others’ habits to yield positive outcomes. Recent research has provided scientific insights into habit formation, change, and the underlying neurology/psychology involved. Understanding habits allows for intentional modification to improve lives.

  • Eugene Pauly contracted viral encephalitis in his brain which destroyed tissue in his medial temporal lobe. This caused severe memory loss but left other cognitive functions intact.

  • Neuroscientist Larry Squire studied Eugene to understand the effects of the brain damage. Squire was intrigued because the brain scans looked similar to those of a famous amnesiac patient named H.M.

  • In the 1950s, H.M. underwent experimental surgery to treat his severe epilepsy which involved removing his hippocampus and surrounding tissue. This left him with dense anterograde amnesia - he could not form new memories.

  • Despite his severe memory loss, Eugene was still able to develop habits and routines without conscious recollection, like getting up multiple times to cook bacon and eggs.

  • Squire’s study of Eugene helped reveal that even complex habits can form through unconscious, habitual processes separate from explicit memory formation. This opened up a new area of research on how habits are formed in the brain.

So in summary, the passage describes how the case studies of amnesiac patients Eugene and H.M. helped scientists like Squire uncover the neurological basis of habit formation independent of conscious memory processes.

  • Larry Squire studied Eugene, a patient who suffered brain damage that left him with severe anterograde amnesia (unable to form new memories). Unlike patient H.M., Eugene could carry on conversations and perform daily tasks without seeming amiss.

  • Tests showed Eugene could recall autobiographical events from before 1960 but not more recent decades. He retained habits from his youth but couldn’t form new memories or recall the layout of his house.

  • Remarkably, Eugene was able to find his way home on walks around his neighborhood even when he couldn’t draw a map or identify his house. Squire began to suspect Eugene was forming new habits without conscious memory.

  • Experiments confirmed Eugene could perform tasks like finding nuts in the kitchen without conscious recollection of where items were located. He seemed to be implicitly learning navigation routes through repetition.

  • Squire’s work with Eugene sparked interest in better understanding habits and how new patterns may form in damaged brains through processes beyond conscious recollection. This led to detailed rat experiments studying habit formation at the neurological level.

  • In the 1990s, MIT researchers studied the basal ganglia, an ancient brain structure that controls automatic behaviors like breathing.

  • They experimented on rats in T-mazes, inserting probes to monitor brain activity as the rats learned to find chocolate rewards.

  • At first, the rats’ brains were very active as they explored and processed new information. But over time as the maze route became automatic, brain activity decreased.

  • The basal ganglia was found to play a key role in habit formation. As routines became internalized through repetition, the basal ganglia would “take over” while the rest of the brain rested.

  • Habits form through a “habit loop” - a cue triggers an automatic routine that is rewarding, strengthening the loop. Over time this becomes ingrained in the basal ganglia.

  • Understanding habits and the underlying neurological processes reveals why habits are so persistent unless consciously changed by finding new routines. The brain prefers efficiency and lets habits take over cognitive functions.

The passage describes studies conducted by researcher Larry Squire on a patient named Eugene who had brain damage that wiped out his memory but left his habit forming abilities intact. Squire designed experiments to test if Eugene could form new habits. He showed Eugene pairs of objects daily and rewarded one as “correct”, but Eugene never remembered. However, over time, Eugene began consistently choosing the correct object due to forming a new habit loop - cue (object pair), routine (choose one), reward (finding correct sticker).

To prove this was a habit, Squire later presented all objects at once without cues. Eugene was unable to sort them, showing the habit only worked in the original context. This proved Eugene could form habits without conscious memory or understanding. His daily routines, like walks and meals, were also guided by habits. The passage discusses how this research revolutionized understanding that habits significantly influence behavior alongside memory and reason. It launched major scientific study of how habits emerge and can be changed.

  • Cues that trigger habits can be almost anything, from visual cues like food packaging to times of day, emotions, thoughts, or social contexts. Routines can be very complex or simple, even measured in milliseconds for emotion-related habits.

  • Rewards that reinforce habits can be physical pleasures like food/drugs, or emotional rewards like pride from praise. Experiments show habits form automatically outside of conscious awareness but can be deliberately designed or reshaped by altering their components.

  • One experiment showed mice developing lever-pressing habits in response to cues until the behavior was automatic. When the food reward was then made unpleasant, the mice couldn’t stop the habitual behavior despite knowing the food was dangerous.

  • Analogously, people develop fast food habits from exposure to consistent restaurant cues and engineered food rewards, without realizing the accumulating health risks. However, closing a restaurant can disrupt the habit patterns.

  • By observing our own habit cues and rewards, we can identify routines to change and gain more control over automated behaviors that shape our lives without our full awareness or permission. Even small shifts in habits can yield health benefits over time.

  • Claude Hopkins was a famous advertising executive in the early 20th century known for helping promote many consumer brands through creative campaigns.

  • A friend approached Hopkins about doing a national promotional campaign for a new toothpaste called Pepsodent. Hopkins was initially skeptical as brushing teeth was not yet a widespread daily habit.

  • Hopkins researched oral health issues and noticed a dental study mentioning plaque and “tooth film”. He decided to focus the Pepsodent campaign on promoting the product’s ability to remove this film and give consumers beautiful, bright smiles.

  • The Pepsodent ads told people to run their tongue across their teeth and feel the film. It presented removal of the film as the reward or benefit. This played on cues (feeling the film) and rewards (brighter smile) to try to create a new brushing habit.

  • The campaign was hugely successful, driving rapid demand and sales growth for Pepsodent. It helped establish brushing teeth as a widespread daily routine in America over the following decades.

  • Hopkins’ tactics showed how focusing an ad campaign on simple cues and clear rewards could potentially drive habitual behavior change at a large scale, becoming an influential model in marketing. His rules about cues and rewards are still used today to try to form new habits.

  • The passage describes a team of marketers at Procter & Gamble struggling to develop an advertising campaign for a new odor-eliminating product called Febreze.

  • Febreze was invented by a P&G chemist and uses a molecule called HPBCD that draws bad smells into its structure, eliminating odors. P&G saw potential to create a new product category.

  • Leader Drake Stimson and his team tested Febreze in Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Boise. A breakthrough came from a park ranger whose work left her home smelling like skunk. Febreze eliminated the smell and improved her dating life.

  • Stimson’s team designed ads around eliminating embarrassing smells from clothes and homes. But when launched, Febreze sales were small and got smaller. Researchers found samples untouched on shelves.

  • This was a disaster for Stimson, whose failure put his career at P&G in jeopardy. The team was struggling to understand why Febreze wasn’t selling despite eliminating unpleasant odors as intended.

  • Procter & Gamble’s Febreze air freshener product was failing to gain traction in the market. The company held an emergency meeting to discuss cutting their losses.

  • The division president agreed to give Febreze more time after a plea from one executive. A new team of researchers was brought in from top universities to investigate why Febreze wasn’t working.

  • Through interviews in smelly homes, the researchers discovered that people become desensitized to bad smells they are constantly exposed to, like cat smells. As a result, there was no noticeable cue prompting people to use Febreze regularly.

  • Neuroscientist Wolfram Schultz’s experiments with monkeys helped explain how habits are formed through cue-routine-reward loops in the brain. Cues trigger anticipation and craving of an expected reward. Well-formed habits are driven by these subconscious cravings.

  • Applying this research, the Febreze team realized they needed to find a way to make bad smells more noticeable as a cue to trigger Febreze usage and build the habit. But how could they do this if people didn’t notice the smells themselves?

The passages discuss how habits are formed through habit loops involving cues, routines, and rewards. Cravings play a key role in driving the habit loop. Once the brain learns to anticipate and crave the reward, it will trigger the routine automatically in response to the cue.

Food habits are given as examples. When people see foods like doughnuts or the dinner their child is eating, their brain begins anticipating and craving the reward of sugar or taste. This can drive them to eat unthinkingly. Exercise habits also form when people start to anticipate and crave the endorphin rush or sense of accomplishment from working out.

The case of Febreze is discussed. P&G struggled to make it a regular habit until they realized people were using it as a “mini-celebration” after cleaning as a reward. They repositioned it accordingly in ads to trigger the habit loop - showing it used after daily cleaning cues like making beds as the reward people would crave and link to that routine. This behavioral understanding of cues, routines, and cravings driving habit loops through learned anticipation helped transform Febreze into a daily habit.

  • Febreze was originally marketed as a solution to unpleasant odors, but sales were middling. It failed to become a habit.

  • Researchers realized they were approaching it wrong. No one wants to admit their house stinks. Instead, people crave pleasant smells, especially after cleaning when things are already clean.

  • Febreze was relaunched focusing on creating a craving for its pleasant scent. Within a year, sales doubled to over $230 million as Febreze became a habit people wanted in their homes.

  • Successful habits are driven by cravings for an expected reward. Creating cues for a reward sparks a craving that drives repeated behavior into an automatic habit loop.

  • Pepsodent’s success was similarly driven not by promises of clean teeth, but by creating a craving for the cooling tingling sensation in the mouth through added mint oil and chemicals. People came to expect and desire this sensation, driving toothbrushing into a daily habit.

  • Understanding cravings allows the deliberate creation of new habits through cues, rewards and sparking anticipatory wants or cravings for those rewards. This “golden rule of habit change” can be applied to many behaviors people ought to make habitual through positive reinforcement.

  • Tony Dungy has waited 17 years to become a NFL head coach after being an assistant for many years. He has interviewed for head coaching positions 4 times previously but was not hired due to his philosophy focusing on changing player habits rather than complex schemes.

  • Dungy’s philosophy is based on the “Golden Rule of habit change” - to change a habit, keep the cue and reward the same but change the routine. He wants to ingrain automatic reactions in players by drilling new routines until they are instinctual.

  • The Buccaneers, a struggling team, hire Dungy in 1996. Early in his first season with them, they are losing again in a game against the Chargers.

  • Dungy sees his approach starting to work as the Bucs defense lines up in a simple formation. Through drills, he has ingrained new automatic routines in players like Regan Upshaw. Upshaw reacts incredibly fast to cues to disrupt the play.

  • This pressure forces a Chargers interception by John Lynch, who is also reacting automatically to drilled cues. The Bucs then score to take the lead, showing Dungy that his habit-based approach can work at the NFL level.

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat the Indianapolis Colts 25-17 in one of the season’s biggest upsets.

  • After the game, Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy and Colts head coach Jon Gruden exit the field together.

  • Gruden says to Dungy “It feels like something was different out there.”

  • Dungy replies “We’re starting to believe.” This suggests the Buccaneers are gaining confidence in Dungy’s system and approach.

The passage discusses how habits can be changed by keeping the cues and rewards the same, but inserting new routines. It gives examples of applying this method to addictions and behaviors.

Specifically, it notes that AA helps alcoholics by providing companionship and group gatherings as alternatives to drinking to relieve stress or have fun on weekends. This provides the same social rewards without the alcohol.

It then discusses a study where electrical devices were implanted in alcoholics’ brains to disrupt craving signals. While this reduced cravings, most still relapsed until they learned new stress-relief routines like AA meetings.

The passage then uses the example of habit reversal therapy used to treat a woman, Mandy, who was a chronic nail-biter. By having her identify the cues (tingling nails) and rewards (relief from boredom) and replace the biting with alternative responses like hand movements, her nail-biting habit was eliminated.

In summary, the key idea is that to change habits, you don’t need to change the cues or rewards, but can insert new routines that satisfy the reward in a healthier way by identifying the cue-reward relationship. AA and therapy examples demonstrate applying this approach to addictions and behaviors.

The passage discusses Tony Dungy’s approach to coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Dungy believed the key was getting his players to operate purely on instinct and habit by taking decision-making out of the game. He would establish simple routines and keys for players to watch, and have them quickly react based on those cues without overthinking. This took time to implement fully, but eventually the players’ actions became automatic. The Bucs started winning more under this system. However, they still struggled in big, high-pressure games, reverting to old ways of thinking too much. Dungy was eventually fired despite his success, and the Bucs went on to win the Super Bowl the next year still using his approach. The passage stresses how developing strong, ingrained habits was central to Dungy’s coaching philosophy and the team’s improvement, but that fully internalizing those habits, even in the biggest moments, was still a challenge. Belief and trusting the system fully was portrayed as another necessary ingredient.

The passage discusses how belief and group dynamics play a key role in habit change and sustained sobriety. Researchers found that AA’s emphasis on spirituality helps develop the “capacity to believe” needed to cope with life stresses without relapsing. Merely replacing old habits is often not enough without this underlying belief.

It then uses Tony Dungy and the Indianapolis Colts football team as an example. Dungy implemented habit-changing routines with the Colts, but they continued choking in playoffs due to lack of belief. After Dungy’s son unexpectedly died, something shifted - players supported Dungy and fully committed to his strategies out of a desire to help him. This strengthened collective belief allowed the Colts to play their best.

Overall, the passage argues that belief - developed through adversity like tragedy or through supportive group experiences - is critical for transforming habits permanently rather than just temporarily replacing behaviors. Both AA meetings and team dynamics can cultivate this belief that empower sustainable change.

  • Habits can change when people join groups where change seems possible. Being part of a community makes the potential for change feel more real.

  • Major life changes don’t usually happen through single events, but rather through communities, even small ones, that make change seem believable. One woman’s life transformed after discussing leaving her husband with coworkers.

  • Psychologists say change occurs among other people - it seems real when we see it happening to others. But the precise mechanisms of belief are still not fully understood.

  • Tony Dungy’s Indianapolis Colts football team came together after the death of his son. In 2006 they had a great season but faced defeat in the conference championship. At halftime down by 18 points, Dungy urged the team to believe they could still win.

  • The Colts played better in the second half by focusing on their practiced routines. With seconds left, they intercepted the ball to secure the win. Two weeks later, they won the Super Bowl. Dungy’s players credited their belief, which made their trained skills stick during pressure.

  • For habits to permanently change, people must believe change is possible. Groups and communities make belief easier by demonstrating change can happen. Finding alternatives and doing it with others’ support increases the chances of success habit change.

  • Paul O’Neill was hired as the new CEO of Alcoa in 1987 to turn the company around from recent missteps.

  • At his first meeting with investors, O’Neill shocked everyone by focusing on worker safety rather than profits. He wanted to make Alcoa the safest company in the US.

  • Investors were confused by this unorthodox approach and many lost confidence in O’Neill.

  • However, within a year profits hit a record high under O’Neill’s leadership. By the time he retired, profits were 5x higher and the stock value had increased 5-fold as well.

  • O’Neill also achieved his goal of making Alcoa one of the safest companies. Injury rates fell to 1/20th the national average.

  • O’Neill believed in focusing on “keystone habits” - certain habits that can transform an entire organization by rippling out and changing other patterns of behavior.

  • By focusing first on the keystone habit of safety, O’Neill was able to radically improve both the safety culture and financial performance of Alcoa over his tenure as CEO.

  • Paul O’Neill had started working on a list of priorities if he accepted the CEO position at Alcoa. He believed in using lists to organize and achieve goals.

  • As a government official, O’Neill observed that many programs and decisions were driven more by institutional habits and bureaucratic routines rather than logical thinking. For example, building new hospitals regardless of actual need.

  • The best-run agencies intentionally created habits that encouraged innovation and risk-taking. For example, NASA applauding even failed rocket launches to encourage experimentation.

  • As Alcoa’s new CEO, O’Neill decided his top priority would be improving workplace safety. His goal was zero injuries. He believed this focus could unite unions and executives and give him leverage to change work habits.

  • O’Neill’s safety plan was modeled on a habit loop - creating automatic routines where any injury triggered a response and plan to prevent recurrences. This forced better communication across management levels to continuously improve processes.

  • Alcoa, an aluminum company, implemented a new safety program led by executive Paul O’Neill that focused on preventing injuries. This required changing the company’s rigid hierarchy to allow for better communication about safety issues.

  • As safety habits shifted, other aspects of the company changed quickly as well, like embracing productivity measurements of individual workers and policies giving workers autonomy to stop unsafe production. Safety habits started spilling into employees’ personal lives.

  • These changes in safety routines cascaded through the organization, lowering costs, improving quality, and increasing productivity. Fixing issues that caused injuries also addressed issues causing production problems.

  • Studies show similar effects - exercise or family dinners trigger positive changes in unrelated areas like spending, stress, academics. Initial shifts seem to start chain reactions helping other good habits form.

  • Michael Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman established targeted routines like visualizing races to help Phelps focus. These “keystone habits” acted as small wins that facilitated other productive habits forming naturally around them.

So in summary, focusing on keystone habits and small initial wins can cause wide-reaching transformations by establishing cultures where positive change spreads contagiously through new routines and structures.

The passage discusses how small wins can fuel widespread changes through seemingly modest initial goals or achievements that build momentum over time. It provides examples of how small wins contributed to larger successes in the gay rights movement and Michael Phelps’ career.

In the early 1970s, the Library of Congress agreed to reclassify books on gay liberation from an “abnormal sexual relations” category to a new category. This small win electrified the gay rights movement and inspired further organizing. It set in motion larger changes like openly gay politicians and the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness.

Michael Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman started with small techniques like visualization and relaxation exercises. Over time, these built Phelps’ mental routines and sense of inevitable victory. Even when his goggles malfunctioned in the 2008 Olympics, Phelps was prepared through previous “small wins.” His practices fueled a pattern of accomplishments.

The passage also discusses how Alcoa CEO Paul O’Neill drove safety improvements through emphasizing an accident’s human costs. He helped spark culture change by leveraging initial successes, like injury rate declines, into ongoing momentum through recognition and new policies. Small wins motivated further progress.

  • Paul O’Neill instituted a focus on worker safety at Alcoa, which created an environment where employees felt comfortable sharing other ideas not directly related to safety.

  • One example given is an Alcoa plant that struggled choosing popular paint colors for aluminum siding. A low-level employee suggested grouping all painting machines together to allow faster color changes, which doubled profits within a year.

  • O’Neill encouraged workers to call him directly with any issues, including non-safety related ideas. This opened the door for other improvements to bubble up from employees.

  • More broadly, O’Neill’s emphasis on safety habits created a structure where other beneficial habits could flourish across the company in unexpected ways. This led to transformative changes beyond just safety issues.

So in summary, O’Neill’s focus on safety as a “keystone habit” had unintended positive impacts across Alcoa as it encouraged open communication and new ideas, ultimately driving major business improvements and transformations.

  • Travis Leach witnessed his father overdose on heroin when he was 9 years old. They had just moved into a small apartment after being evicted from their previous home.

  • Travis’s parents struggled with drug addiction and would often clean excessively when using meth, though the house was usually messy when they were sedated on heroin.

  • Travis’s father was a gentle man from a small town in California. His mother was in prison for heroin possession and prostitution. The family maintained an appearance of normalcy despite the parents’ drug use.

  • On the morning of the overdose, Travis and his brother were playing in the living room while their father went to the bathroom carrying his needle-filled sock. He overdosed and Travis found him unconscious on the bathroom floor. This was Travis’s first experience witnessing a drug overdose.

Here is a summary of the key parts:

  • Travis grew up with a father who struggled with drug addiction. As a child, he witnessed his father overdosing and had to call 911.

  • Travis struggled in school and jobs as a teenager, often getting upset and not being able to control his emotions. He wondered if this is what his parents felt like with drugs.

  • He got a job at Starbucks on the recommendation of a customer. Starbucks provided extensive training on life and self-discipline skills.

  • Travis has now worked at Starbucks for 6 years and is a store manager making $44k a year. He credits Starbucks training with changing his life by teaching him focus, willpower and how to get to work on time.

  • The passage discusses research showing willpower is the most important factor for success. Starbucks invested millions developing training to build willpower habits in employees.

  • An experiment at Case Western tested people’s willpower by leaving cookies out versus radishes. Those who delayed gratification as kids had better outcomes like grades and SAT scores later in life, showing the importance of building willpower habits early.

  • Early experiments in the 1970s found that kids who could delay gratification (e.g. resisting eating a marshmallow) had better self-regulatory skills that benefited them throughout their lives.

  • Further research in the 1990s by Mark Muraven suggested willpower is a limited resource, not just a skill. Exerting self-control in one task seems to deplete willpower available for subsequent tasks.

  • Muraven’s experiment found that participants who had to resist eating cookies (using willpower) gave up faster on an impossible puzzle than those who could freely eat cookies.

  • Later studies showed that exercising willpower in one domain (e.g. working out, money management, academics) led to improved self-control spilling over to other domains like diet, alcohol/cigarette use, productivity.

  • This suggests willpower is like a muscle that can be strengthened with practice, leading to better self-control broadly impacting multiple behaviors and outcomes. Exerting willpower in one area leaves less available for others.

  • The researcher discuss studies showing that willpower can be strengthened over time through practice. Writing specific plans and goals helps build self-regulatory strength by forcing oneself to follow through on commitments like homework, practice, or exercise routines.

  • Many schools are now incorporating lessons to develop students’ willpower and self-control. Charter schools that focus on this, like KIPP, have seen test score improvements. Making kids practice piano or play sports helps build willpower muscles.

  • Companies also struggle with employees lacking self-discipline. Starbucks tries to address this through training since excellent customer service is key to their business model. Initial attempts at willpower programs after work were not effective.

  • A seminal study found that patients recovering from hip or knee surgery who wrote specific weekly plans for their recovery made significantly more progress than those who did not write plans. The plans focused on addressing moments of anticipated pain and temptation to quit.

  • Writing plans helps design willpower into a habit by identifying cues and rewards to overcome difficult “inflection points.” Starbucks similarly needed to address employees’ inflection points through institutional habits to strengthen self-discipline.

  • Starbucks trained employees in specific “willpower habit loops” to handle stressful moments and inflection points like angry customers, long lines, etc.

  • Some of the routines Starbucks taught included the LATTE method (Listen, Acknowledge, Take action, Thank, Explain) for dealing with unhappy customers and the What What Why system for giving constructive criticism.

  • Employees would practice these routines by role playing anticipated stressful situations until the responses became automatic habits.

  • Other companies like Deloitte and the Container Store also trained employees in routines and habits for handling inflection points at work.

  • Howard Schultz, CEO and founder of Starbucks, focused heavily on training and customer service from the beginning. When these declined after he stepped back, he renewed the focus on training including bolstering employee willpower and confidence.

  • The training aimed to give employees clear instructions and routines to follow during moments that could compromise their self-control, similar to how the Scottish patients had booklets to consult. This helped make willpower a habit through planning ahead how to respond.

  • An 86-year-old man was brought to Rhode Island Hospital after falling at home and developing a serious brain injury (subdural hematoma). He needed emergency surgery to drain blood from his brain.

  • Rhode Island Hospital was a leading medical institution but also had internal tensions, particularly between nurses and doctors. Nurses complained of being overworked and disrespected.

  • There had been a recent mistake where a surgeon operated on the wrong body part of a patient. Nurses were insisting on “time-outs” before surgeries to prevent errors, but some doctors resisted these protocols.

  • Just before the elderly patient’s brain surgery, when an OR nurse called for a routine time-out, the surgeon preparing for the operation headed for the doors, refusing to participate and telling the nurse to “lead this.” This highlighted the ongoing tensions and lack of teamwork between nurses and doctors at the hospital.

  • A nurse questioned the surgeon’s authority when he wanted to leave a procedure, saying she didn’t feel it was appropriate.

  • The surgeon threatened the nurse, saying he doesn’t need her opinion and to never question his authority again.

  • The procedure went ahead without further issue after the surgeon returned. However, the encounter established a culture of fear where nurses wouldn’t contradict doctors to avoid retaliation.

  • Nurses at the hospital developed color-coded systems to warn each other about difficult doctors. Informal rules helped avert conflicts but also emerged from this toxic culture.

  • In one instance, a surgeon operated on the wrong side of a patient’s head despite the nurse’s concerns about consent forms not specifying the location. This mistake likely contributed to the patient’s death and the surgeon was banned from the hospital.

  • The hospital had developed dysfunctional habits as a result of issues like physician arrogance not being addressed. These habits made serious mistakes more likely. The incident showed how harmful cultures can emerge without deliberate planning of organizational routines.

  • Routines and standard processes (habits) are crucial for organizations to function efficiently and get work done without having to reinvent processes constantly. They provide stability, coordination and help reduce uncertainty.

  • However, companies are not harmonious groups, but are rather like battlefields with internal competition and conflict between individuals and groups seeking power and credit.

  • Routines help establish “truces” that allow rivals to set aside conflicts enough to cooperate on getting work done. Things like sales teams agreeing on limiting discounts to protect profits.

  • These truces offer a form of organizational justice that keeps conflicts predictable and within bounds. But they only work if balanced - if truces favor one side overly they can break down during crises.

  • At Rhode Island Hospital, the truce favored doctors at the expense of nurses’ input, leading to breakdowns like the wrong-side surgery. Balanced authority and mutual respect are needed for truces to be durable.

  • Routines are especially important for industries like fashion where without efficient processes, creativity cannot succeed due to logistical burdens. Alliances and leaving past employers on good terms also facilitates new designers’ success.

  • In summary, routines and truces are critical but leaders must cultivate habits that both balance power and make clear who is ultimately responsible. Unbalanced truces risk breakdown in critical moments.

The passage describes an underground train station in London called King’s Cross that had deep escalators, passageways and tunnels, some nearly 100 years old. On an evening in 1987, a passenger alerted an employee named Brickell that a tissue was smoldering at the bottom of one of the longest escalators serving the Piccadilly line. Brickell extinguished the small fire but did not investigate further or report it, as fire safety was handled by a separate department and employees were discouraged from overstepping boundaries.

Within 15 minutes, more passengers noticed smoke on the escalator. An employee started evacuating people but the safety inspector, Christopher Hayes, did not immediately call the fire department due to rules against using the word “fire.” The fire grew rapidly in the wooden escalator, fueled by layers of old painted tunnel walls. When firefighters arrived over half an hour later, the station was filling with smoke. Hundreds of people were still inside as the escalator and rubber handrails became an inferno, leading to a deadly fire. The tragedy highlighted how strict compartmentalization between Underground departments had inhibited fire preparedness and emergency response.

  • There was a fire at King’s Cross Station on the London Underground in 1987 that killed 31 people and injured dozens. It started from a discarded match or cigarette that ignited some paper on an escalator.

  • The fire spread quickly due to factors like combustible materials on the escalator and gaps that allowed oxygen to feed the fire. It eventually caused a “flashover” that turned the entire escalator shaft into an inferno.

  • Responders faced challenges dousing the flames because of bureaucratic divisions and a lack of coordination. Employees weren’t properly trained on safety equipment and fire trucks couldn’t access hydrants inside the station. It took 6 hours to fully extinguish the fire.

  • An investigation found the disaster was exacerbated by “truces” or informal rules within the Underground that prioritized avoiding disruptions over safety. For example, clerks were told not to intervene for fear of overstepping their roles.

  • Similarly, at Rhode Island Hospital there were multiple cases of mistaken surgeries over a few years, damaging its reputation. But the media attention created a sense of crisis.

  • The hospital used this crisis as an opportunity to reform, shutting down operations to retrain staff, implement new safety practices like checklists, and allow for anonymous reporting of issues - leading to improved patient outcomes.

  • had been proposed at Rhode Island Hospital in previous years, but were always struck down due to doctors/nurses not wanting outside oversight or recommendations on how to do their jobs

  • Once errors caused a “sense of crisis” at the hospital, everyone became more open to change

  • Other hospitals have also only embraced reform after mistakes caused a crisis

  • One example given is Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, which went through errors/battles in the late 1990s that led to discussing mistakes publicly, a major culture shift

  • Crises provide opportunities for leaders to remake organizational habits, like what happened at Rhode Island Hospital after the mistakes which led to new safety procedures and a transformed culture focused on teamwork

  • The new procedures and culture have eliminated further errors, earned awards, and made staff like Nurse Allison Ward feel empowered to speak up about safety

  • Pole was fascinated by the vast amounts of data Target collected on its customers through loyalty cards, credit card purchases, surveys, etc. This allowed Target to deeply analyze customer habits and preferences.

  • Pole’s job was to build mathematical models to understand attributes of households like whether they had kids, outdoor hobbies, preferred ice cream over books, etc. The goal was to convince customers to spend more.

  • Pole and colleagues wanted to predict pregnancies based on buying patterns, as pregnant women and new parents are very profitable customers. Figuring this out could make Target millions.

  • Through the project, Pole learned the dangers of closely analyzing people’s private lives without consent. Not all customers were comfortable with a computer program scrutinizing their reproductive plans.

  • In the past, retailers relied more on vague psychological tactics to get people to spend more, but companies like Target realized profiling individuals with their unique habits could increase profits more.

So in summary, the passage discusses how Target pioneered highly individualized customer profiling and predictive analytics using vast troves of customer data, which Pole helped analyze to maximize spending but also raised privacy concerns.

  • Retail companies like Target purchase extensive consumer data from third-party data brokers to better understand shoppers. This includes demographics, interests, political views, purchases, online activities, photos, and more.

  • Target’s predictive analytics department uses this data to build “guest portraits” and identify patterns in people’s buying habits over time. They look for correlations between purchases and life events to predict what else customers may want to buy.

  • A key challenge is determining when customers are pregnant, even if they don’t want others to know, since pregnancy is a major life event that makes buying habits more flexible. Predicting pregnancies allows Target to better target new parents.

  • New parents represent a lucrative market since they purchase many infant supplies and often switch other regular brands. Target aims to get new parents buying their regular groceries and other items at their stores.

  • Major retailers aggressively target new and expecting mothers, even distributing marketing gifts in maternity wards, to gain these valuable lifelong customers early on. Predictive analytics is a key part of their strategy.

  • Target wanted to identify expecting mothers early in their pregnancy, before competitors like Disney and P&G, so they could market baby products to them.

  • Andrew Pole built a pregnancy prediction algorithm that analyzed purchasing patterns to predict which customers were pregnant and estimate their due dates.

  • He discovered predictors like buying larger quantities of unscented lotion in the second trimester and loading up on vitamins, magnesium and zinc in the first 20 weeks. Combining various pregnancy-related purchases could predict pregnancy and trimester with around 87-96% accuracy.

  • Applying this model to Target’s entire customer database generated a list of hundreds of thousands of likely pregnant women they wanted to advertise to.

  • However, marketing to women without their knowledge or consent about being pregnant could make them uncomfortable or feel their privacy was violated. This was a potential PR disaster.

  • The challenge was how to advertise to expecting mothers without revealing they had predicted their pregnancies through purchase analysis.

  • “Hey Ya!” by Outkast was an anticipated hit song according to predictive algorithms, but it was failing on the radio across major markets. Many listeners would change the station within 30 seconds when it came on.

  • Radio shows that listeners want songs that sound like their favorite songs or other songs on the radio. Something different or unfamiliar can be “offending” to listeners.

  • Rich Meyer, a pioneer in radio data analysis, studied what makes songs “sticky” - when listeners don’t change the station. Very popular or familiar songs were sticky, but sometimes even disliked songs were sticky.

  • Meyer noticed sticky songs all had a familiar sound that matched listeners’ expectations for that genre. Familiarity helped the brain focus and follow habits rather than make decisions.

  • “Hey Ya!” failed because while it was a good song, it wasn’t familiar enough. Listeners prefer habits and familiar patterns rather than consciously deciding if they like an unfamiliar song.

  • To make unfamiliar songs hits, radio needed to help listeners see the song as familiar by associating it with other familiar aspects of their format/genre through things like promotion and sequencing on playlists. Familiarity is what keeps listeners engaged.

  • During WWII, the US government shipped much of its domestic meat supply overseas to support troops, leading to shortages at home. Organ meats like liver and kidneys became more popular as a source of protein.

  • The government formed a Committee on Food Habits to study how to encourage Americans to eat more organ meats. Researchers found that making unfamiliar foods look and taste familiar was the key to changing diets.

  • Recipes disguised organ meats in familiar dishes like meatloaf and pot pies. Consumption rose significantly during and after the war as organ meats became comfortable, everyday foods.

  • Target used a similar strategy of making pregnancy ads seem random and familiar to avoid alarming customers that they knew their reproductive status. They mixed baby product coupons with unrelated items so women wouldn’t feel “spied on.”

  • Radio stations promoted Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” by sandwiching it between already popular songs to make it feel familiar and reduce tune-out rates. As the song was played more, it became a new habit and a hit through gradual familiarization.

The overall summary is that familiarity is key to changing habits or gaining acceptance for new products/ideas. The government and companies like Target/radio stations camouflanged unfamiliar items/songs among familiar ones to introduce them without alarming people.

  • On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a public bus, as required by racial segregation laws at the time. She was sitting in the middle section, where either race could sit, and the bus was full, though one standing white passenger wanted her seat.

  • When the bus driver demanded she and others give up their seats for white riders, three other black passengers moved but Parks refused. She was then arrested by police called by the driver.

  • This sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by Martin Luther King Jr., where the black community organized to boycott the city’s public buses for over a year until the laws enforcing segregation on public transportation were overturned.

  • The boycott financially crippled the bus system and drew tens of thousands to protest rallies. It introduced King’s leadership and sparked the larger civil rights movement that would spread across the South and lead to national reforms ending legalized racial segregation.

  • Rosa Parks’ small act of defiance on the bus is seen as pivotal in shifting the civil rights struggle from legal battles to a mass movement powered by entire communities taking non-violent collective action against discrimination.

While Rosa Parks’ singular act of defiance sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, it was not simply her individual action that caused major change. Social habits and networks were crucial in propelling the movement. Parks was deeply embedded in Montgomery’s Black community through her involvement in many social and civic groups. This gave her “strong ties” to a wide range of people across racial and economic lines.

When Parks was arrested, her friends and connections quickly mobilized. Neighborhood and community groups like the NAACP and teachers’ organization helped spread word of the boycott through their existing networks. Jo Ann Robinson proposed the boycott after hearing about Parks from other teachers and parents. She leveraged the social habits and weak community ties to distribute flyers calling for the boycott.

Parks’ personal relationships and membership in diverse groups allowed protest to ignite before apathy could take hold. The preexisting social fabric of Montgomery amplified an individual act into a large-scale movement through habitual ties among friends, neighborhoods, and communities. Understanding how social habits work helps explain why Parks became the catalyst for the successful civil rights campaign.

  • Friendship creates a natural instinct to support and defend friends when they are treated unjustly. People are more willing to protest when a friend faces harm compared to a stranger.

  • When Rosa Parks was arrested, her large network of friends reacted as friends do by organizing a boycott to support her. However, small protests often fizzle out quickly unless more people get involved.

  • The Montgomery bus boycott became a widespread movement because it activated the “sense of obligation” within the black community. People who barely knew Parks joined because of “peer pressure” or social influence from acquaintances (“weak ties”).

  • Weak ties, like casual acquaintances, are actually more influential than strong ties (close friends) in spreading new information and opportunities. This is because weak ties expose us to different social circles than our close friends.

  • Peer pressure from one’s community encourages conformity to group expectations through peer influence that spreads via weak ties. This obligates people to participate in protests even if they don’t strongly care about the issue themselves, to avoid social repercussions.

  • When strong ties of friendship and weak ties of peer pressure combine, they create momentum for widespread social change, as demonstrated by the expansion of the civil rights movement through projects like Freedom Summer that engaged broad participation.

  • Sociologist Doug McAdam studied why some students who applied to participate in Freedom Summer 1964 in Mississippi ultimately went, while others withdrew.

  • He initially hypothesized that those motivated by self-interest would be more likely to withdraw due to risks, while those motivated to help others would be more likely to go. But the data showed motives did not predict participation.

  • He then looked at “opportunity costs” like marriage or jobs, but found these factors actually increased likelihood of participating.

  • His final hypothesis was that social networks/habits explained participation. Those embedded in networks where friends and acquaintances expected participation faced social pressure to go.

  • Those in networks where withdrawing faced little consequences were more able to back out. Religious students deeply embedded in religious groups all participated due to social pressures.

  • The power of strong and weak ties working together compelled participation from some, while others faced less pressure in their communities to take the risks of going to Mississippi. Social networks largely explained who participated in Freedom Summer.

  • In the late 1970s, pastor Rick Warren was starting a new church in Saddleback Valley, California, which was a fast-growing suburb.

  • Warren was influenced by Donald McGavran’s ideas about reaching the unchurched by appealing to people’s social habits and communities, rather than just individuals.

  • Warren started with small prayer meetings in his home that grew to hundreds attending. He addressed common complaints people had about church.

  • The growth put immense pressure on Warren and he had a breakdown, retreating for months with depression.

  • Upon returning, Warren instituted small groups that met in members’ homes weekly. This transformed church participation from an individual decision into a habitual social activity.

  • Small groups became the core of Saddleback Church’s enormous growth, engaging 95% of members through pre-existing social networks and habits in their communities. This approach was central to Warren and Saddleback’s success in reaching the unchurched.

  • Rick Warren created small groups at Saddleback Church to help people form close relationships and focus on growing in their faith. However, the small groups tended to just socialize and not discuss faith.

  • Warren drew on the ideas of Donald McGavran who said Christian habits can help people live as Christians without constant guidance.

  • Warren developed curriculums and habits to teach people, like daily prayer and Bible study. This was meant to help the small groups focus naturally on faith without needing leadership direction.

  • Adopting these habits provides a “recipe” for people to guide their own spiritual growth. It helps the church scale beyond what Warren alone could manage through close relationships. It makes the movement self-sustaining through transformed identities and instincts of the members.

  • Similarly, Martin Luther King transformed the bus boycott movement by casting it as embracing non-violence and opponents through love, not fighting them. Adopting these new habits and behaviors helped unite and propel the movement even without constant direction.

  • Angie Bachmann was a stay-at-home mom whose kids started doing their own activities, leaving her alone during the days. She was bored and unsure of how to fill her time.

  • On a whim, she visited a nearby casino one day. She enjoyed the experience and started going weekly as a fun activity and reward for herself.

  • She set strict rules around her gambling, only spending what was in her wallet and limiting sessions to an hour or two. Over time she got better at games like blackjack.

  • Iowa had recently legalized gambling but with initial restrictions like $5 max bets. These were later lifted as gambling taxes boosted state revenues.

  • In the 2000s, Bachmann’s parents started showing lung disease from smoking. She began visiting them regularly in Tennessee. This is where her casino trips and gambling began escalating beyond her original intended limits.

So in summary, casual gambling became a hobby and pastime for Bachmann until family health issues led her habit to grow outside of her self-imposed controls over time. Iowa had legalized gambling as a revenue source despite initial regulation attempts.

Bachmann was a mother and grandmother who started gambling regularly at casinos to relieve stress and anxiety in her life. At first she had rules and was winning, paying off debts. But over time her gambling increased in frequency and losses amounted. She took out loans from family and accrued debt at the casinos.

By 2001, she was gambling every day to cope with family issues and stress. She was numb and excited at the casino tables and couldn’t control her gambling impulses anymore. Her debts reached $20,000 and she confessed to her husband. They filed for bankruptcy and she tried to quit, but the compulsion returned. Years later, after losing everything, she saw herself more as a victim of her gambling habit than responsible for her choices. She wondered if anyone else could have resisted the same downward spiral.

Brian Thomas was in a similar situation regarding a crime he committed in his sleep. He had a long history of sleepwalking from childhood. On vacation with his wife, he apparently strangled her in his sleep, thinking an intruder was attacking. Tests revealed he demonstrated typical sleep behavior during the act. He claimed lack of responsibility due to being unconscious. Both cases deal with potentially diminished free will and responsibility due to uncontrollable habits or behaviors.

  • Sleepwalking occurs when a person’s brain fails to fully paralyze their body during sleep transitions, allowing them to act out dreams or impulses. Most sleepwalking is harmless.

  • Sleep terrors involve even less brain activity and conscious control. The primitive “habit centers” of the brain direct behaviors automatically in response to threats or stimuli, without input from higher reasoning centers.

  • People experiencing sleep terrors have committed violent acts like murder, rape, and suicide because their brains reacted automatically to perceived threats or urges following deeply ingrained habit patterns, with no ability for conscious intervention.

  • Some argue those committing violent acts during sleep terrors should not be held criminally responsible as they had no conscious control or intent. There are many examples of successful “automatism” defenses used in murder and rape trials.

  • Brian Thomas argued he killed his wife during a sleep terror and was therefore not criminally responsible for his otherwise inexplicable actions, and prosecutors ultimately agreed and dropped the case against him.

  • Thomas, a man who committed a murder while sleepwalking, was found not guilty by reason of automatism. The judge acknowledged he likely felt guilt but bore no legal responsibility.

  • Angie Bachmann, a gambler, also feels deep guilt over her actions but is still held legally responsible. The ethics of this difference are questioned.

  • After her parents’ deaths, Bachmann inherited $1 million. She moved away from casinos but relapsed during a traumatic drive.

  • Casinos aggressively courted her using sophisticated customer tracking systems. She was given lucrative gifts and offers she had difficulty refusing.

  • Her gambling habits took over when she visited casinos. She won and lost large sums, lying to herself and others about the extent of her losses.

  • Harrah’s kept pressuring her to return, even threatening one employee would be fired if she didn’t come. She felt desperate to win back lost money and couldn’t stop the cycle.

  • A neuroscientist studied brain activity in pathological and social gamblers watching slot machines. Differences were observed showing addiction’s effects on cognition.

  • Researchers conducted an MRI study where participants watched a virtual slot machine game that could result in wins, losses, or near misses. They found neurological differences between problem/pathological gamblers and non-problem gamblers.

  • For problem gamblers, near misses activated reward areas of the brain similar to wins. This may explain why they are inclined to keep gambling. Non-problem gamblers’ brains responded to near misses like losses.

  • The study suggests problem gambling may be driven by underlying habitual/addictive neurological responses rather than conscious choice. Near misses are intentionally designed by casinos to prolong gambling.

  • Angie Bachmann’s gambling losses bankrupted her family against her stated wishes. She was addictively drawn to casinos despite negative consequences. The court held her fully responsible for debt though her behavior appeared driven by non-conscious urges.

  • Brian Thomas killed his wife in a purportedly non-conscious reaction but was not held responsible. The article questions why problem gamblers like Bachmann are blamed while those acting on implicit urges like Thomas are excused. It raises issues around free will and accountability.

  • The passage discusses habits and their impact on human behavior. It uses the examples of Angie Bachmann, a gambling addict, and Brian Thomas, a sleepwalking murderer, to illustrate different perspectives on responsibility for one’s habits/actions.

  • Some thinkers like Aristotle believed habits largely determine human character and behavior, as habitual behaviors occur unthinkingly and reveal our true selves. Habits are formed through preparation and repeated behaviors over time.

  • However, the passage argues habits are not fully deterministic - we can choose our habits once we understand how they function. Any habit, no matter how complex or addictive, can be changed through conscious effort to alter the cues and rewards that drive the routine.

  • While both Bachmann and Thomas claimed their behaviors were out of their control due to habits, the passage suggests they should be treated differently. Thomas may have lacked awareness of his habit, but Bachmann was aware of her gambling problem. With that awareness comes responsibility to change problematic habits through conscious effort.

  • In general, most people’s daily habits around things like eating, sleeping, spending time/money are behaviors they are aware of and have the freedom/responsibility to modify once they understand habits can change. Habits reveal both our character and our power to shape our futures through deliberate habit modification.

The key distinction made is that habits may seem uncontrollable but we have free will once we understand habits, and with that understanding comes responsibility to change problematic habits we are aware of through conscious effort to alter their patterns. Thomas lacked this understanding/awareness, but Bachmann did not and thus deserves greater accountability.

  • Slot machines and other electronic gambling machines are very effective at manipulating the human mind and can be highly addictive.

  • An addiction researcher from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine commented that no other form of gambling is as skillful at manipulating the human mind as these machines.

  • The researcher made this comment in an interview with a New York Times reporter in 2004 to emphasize how powerful and effective these machines are at exploiting human psychology and driving addictive behavior.

  • While gambling may give the perception of winning money when playing, in reality players often end up putting in more money than they receive back from the machines over time.

  • However, the intermittent reinforcement of occasional wins still keeps people engaged and gambling repeatedly in search of a bigger payout, despite the odds being stacked against them.

So in summary, the quote highlights how slot machines and similar electronic gambling is uniquely optimized to psychologically manipulate players and drive addictive behavior through intermittent variable reinforcement, despite normally resulting in financial losses for the gambler.

A psychologist was studying witness interviews to try and identify subtle cues that could influence how witnesses recounted events. However, when reviewing the videotaped interviews, she found there was too much happening - facial expressions, questioning styles, emotions - and couldn’t detect any patterns.

She decided to focus on just a few elements: the questioner’s tone of voice, the witness’s facial expressions, and their proximity. She muted the audio to just hear tone, covered the questioner’s face, and used a tape measure to gauge distance.

Once she isolated these specific elements, clear patterns emerged. Witnesses who misremembered facts tended to be questioned by interviewers using a gentle, friendly tone. Witnesses who smiled more or sat closer to the questioner also misremembered more.

The friendly cues like tone and smiling seemed to trigger a subconscious desire to please the questioner, leading to inaccurate recollections. Other researchers had viewed the same tapes but couldn’t see the patterns due to the large amount of additional information.

The psychologist demonstrated that isolating a few key behavioral elements can help reveal subtle cues that aren’t obvious when too much extraneous information is present. This same technique can be applied to identifying the cues that trigger our own habits.

Here are some key examples of how journalists should carry themselves through the world based on the provided text:

  • Show gratitude to colleagues and help from others. The author thanks many colleagues at the Times and other publications who provided support, feedback on chapters, ideas, and friendship.

  • Conduct thorough research and fact checking. The author notes discussions with many researchers, subjects of stories, and fact checkers to ensure reporting is accurate.

  • Treat sources with respect. Sources were given a chance to review facts and provide additional comments after reporting was completed.

  • Maintain ethical standards like privacy. In rare cases, confidentiality was extended to sources or some details modified to protect privacy.

  • Continue learning and growing. The author’s understanding of topics like military habit training was helped by discussions with experts over time.

  • Share knowledge and insights openly. Many studies, papers, and other resources that informed the reporting are detailed for interested readers.

  • Focus on quality and integrity over speed. Thorough interviews, review of literature, and fact checking were prioritized over rushing to publish.

So in summary, journalists should carry themselves with humility, care for accuracy, respect for sources, commitment to ethics, dedication to lifelong learning, and eagerness to openly share insights rather than just report news quickly. Collaboration, research rigor and transparency are also held up as important principles.

Here are the key points from the summaries:

  • Habit Learning System in Humans (1996): Study by Knowlton et al. that found evidence for a habit learning system in the basal ganglia that is separate from conscious, declarative memory systems. It can support learning without awareness.

  • Robust Habit Learning in the Absence of Awareness (2005): Study by Bayley et al. that replicated habit learning without awareness found by Knowlton et al., and showed it is independent of the medial temporal lobe which supports declarative memory.

  • Quantitation of the Human Basal Ganglia (1991): Phantom study on positron emission tomography quantifying the basal ganglia, finding it has a golf ball-sized oval structure deep in the brain.

  • Functional Architecture of Basal Ganglia Circuits (1990), Functional Anatomy of the Basal Ganglia (1995), The Functional Anatomy of Basal Ganglia Disorders (1989): Sources detailing the basal ganglia’s role in parallel processing and its cell structures like the striatum that form functional loops with the cortex. Implicated in diseases like Parkinson’s.

  • Learning Processing in the Basal Ganglia focuses on the role of the basal ganglia, especially through habit formation controlled by chunking of stimulus-response associations, in procedural memory and habits like opening food containers.

So in summary, these sources provide evidence for a habit learning system in the basal ganglia separate from declarative memory, define the basal ganglia’s anatomical structures, and discuss its role in habits, procedural memory, and movement/motor disorders.

Here are summaries of the two sources:

Amoto and T. Shimura, “Roles of Taste in Feeding and Reward,” in The Senses: A Comprehensive Reference, ed. Allan I. Basbaum et al. (New York: Academic Press, 2008), 437–58.

  • Discusses the role of taste in feeding behavior and reward/motivation. Taste allows animals and humans to distinguish nutritious vs potentially toxic foods. It also contributes to reward systems in the brain that motivate feeding behaviors. Pleasant tastes trigger dopaminergic reward systems.

F. G. Ashby, B. O. Turner, and J. C. Horvitz, “Cortical and Basal Ganglia Contributions to Habit Learning and Automaticity,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 14 (2010): 208–15.

  • Examines the brain systems involved in habit learning and automatic behaviors. Habits are behaviors that become more automatic with repetition through procedural memory systems involving the basal ganglia and related circuits. The cognitive/cortical systems involved in initial learning of goal-directed actions slowly shift control to more automatic habit systems via the basal ganglia.

The passage discusses how Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) helps people overcome alcoholism by targeting the habitual behaviors and thought patterns associated with drinking.

AA provides alcoholics with a community and structure to replace drinking rituals. Meetings become a new habit that offsets cravings. Slogans like “go to a meeting if you want to drink” and “avoid slippery people, places, and things” help members avoid old triggers and form new routines.

Rather than just addressing drinking habits, the AA program aims to foster deeper personal changes through working the 12 steps. This targets the “alcoholic ego” and underlying self-centeredness that drives the addiction.

By attacking the root causes and replacing old habits, AA has helped an estimated 2.1 million current members and up to 10 million total people achieve sobriety since its founding in the 1930s. The program provides an alternative to just willpower by changing behaviors, habits, and thought patterns associated with alcohol use.

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About Matheus Puppe