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There has been a leap forward in the understanding of habit formation in the brain. Scientists at MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research had discovered that the brain's striatum was sending signals during the learning process, then scaling back to only mark the beginning and end of a newly learned habit. This opened the door to the possibility that this mechanism was part of habit formation, though it could be simply part of executing motor processes. In their latest research, Professor Ann Graybiel and her colleagues have continued to experimentally define the actual mechanism behind habit formation.

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1. What we think we know about habits

We put habits to work in sports, music, driving and just getting up in the morning and brushing our teeth. Medical and allied health practitioners use the habit-forming system to retrain the body and help it heal. Addiction counselors help clients to form new, healthier habits. They can see the results, but there has been little understanding of how the brain changes habits.

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