How to get from Habitual Response to Selective Choice

When it comes to changing habits, those which “we always did that way”, we think we cannot just give up the old habit, be free to do things differently. However, humans are the species that has the capacity to change him/herself consciously. Scientists calls this neuroplasticity. Changing habits is like changing cognitive skills:  you slowly change your mind.

Here is a fun test by a company called Lumosity that teaches you to train cognitive skills playfully. Do this 5 second test to find out your current level of response inhibition and selective attention, two important skills when it comes to changing habits and choosing consciously.

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How flexible is your brain? Give it a 5 second test: quickly identify the color of each of the above words (don’t read them). Say the colors out loud.How accurate were you? How long did it take? This task, called the Stroop Test, is much more challenging than it first appears. It’s much harder to identify a color when it’s different from the word than it is to identify when the two match. This challenging test relies on two key cognitive skills, response inhibition and selective attention.

 Because most people’s automatic response is to read a word, the Stroop Test is a classic test of response inhibition. Obviously an important skill when it comes to changing habits or overcoming addictions. This skill involves responding quickly while avoiding incorrect impulses that may interfere with accomplishing goal-driven tasks. Response inhibition is associated with the brain’s executive function, and brain imaging studies have found that performing the Stroop Test activates brain areas involved in executive function, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
In fact, individuals with ADHD and depression, whose poor executive function makes them struggle to pay attention and control reactions, often have a harder time performing the Stroop Test.
 The Stroop Test also challenges selective attention, or the ability to choose which stimuli to focus on and which to ignore. When it comes to changing habits selective attention is crucial.
 The mental flexibility required to switch between multiple stimuli is essential: without good selective attention, it not only can also be easy to make errors, but lose focus and forget what is really important in a certain situation.
Changing habits is like changing cognitive skills:  you slowly change your mind. Check out Lumosity‘s online training programs.
If you are looking for professional support to change life habits or for life coaching please get in touch with us for a free consultation on Skype today!

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