If you ever realize that you’re biting your nails, itching your arm or cracking your knuckles without having made a conscious decision to do it, then you have a habit. Everyone’s usually guilty of at least one of these, but it’s pretty cool to know where habits are formed in the brain — and how they work.
According to a video recently posted on Testtube on The Discovery Channel, your habits form in the part of your brain where your coordination comes from. The chain of action that makes up a habit is first a trigger, then an action, then a reward: a funny feeling in your hand, you cracking your knuckles, that satisfying sound. (So. Satisfying.) It’s called a habit loop, and the end goal is a physical release.
Your brain basically recognizes this moment of pleasure time and time again as a habit, somewhere over 15 to 254 days, and it offloads it to your subconscious so that you’re actually doing these things on autopilot without really knowing you’re doing them. Your brain literally stops sending the message.
The point where it gets a little hairy is when it becomes a psychological condition that associates the habit with stress relief — when the hair tugging becomes ripping out your scalp, or where your teeth on your nails becomes biting them down to the quick. So these little quirks aren’t anything to worry about unless you’re doing physical harm to yourself — it’s just your body’s little habit loop in action. Science is cool, y’all.
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(Photo via Getty)