Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It takes 21 days to change a habit

Yesterday as a part of a presentation I gave at the National Disability Service support worker’s conference, I talked about the old adage, “It takes 21 days to change a habit”. The thrust of my mention was about reinforcement, breaking habits, and building new ones.

We’ve known for years about the neuroplasticity — the brain’s capacity to create new pathways, a crucial part of recovery for anyone who loses a sense or a cognitive or motor ability. But it can also be part of everyday life for all of us. While it is often true that learning is easier in childhood, neuroscientists now know that the brain does not stop growing, even in our later years. Every time we practice an old skill or learn a new one, existing neural connections are strengthened and, over time, neurons create more connections to other neurons. Even new nerve cells can be generated.

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