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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why is change so difficult?

This has to do with basic brain physiology. When learning something new we use our "working memory" which requires much energy to function and fatigues easily as it has limited cognitive resources.  Because the "working memory" can easily get overwhelmed, it pushes repetitive  activity into the basal ganglia (or automatic pilot parts of the brain). Once this happens we have a new habit, we can do the new activity without thinking. This frees up cognitive resources for the "working memory" part of the brain.

Forging new brain circuits, as in learning something new, is exhausting. It's like walking through a huge snow bank, rather than
taking the already shovelled trail. We have to go slower, pay more attention, and put in much more effort. Consequently, some people give up learning new things.   

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