You May Not Have Noticed But Habituation Just Happens

Your brain learns to block out the noises that it hears all the time.

Habituation is a very specific term when it comes to psychology.  It’s something that’s incredibly, incredibly natural.  So as soon as there’s a stimulus that you're hearing often you do become habituated to it. 


So for instance one of my favorite examples comes from my personal experience.  My freshman year of college I had a huge church right outside my window and the bells would ring.  And on weekends the bells would ring and I was a college freshman, I wanted to sleep.  At first they always woke me up.  And I got to the point where I didn’t even hear them; I didn’t realize that the bells were ringing. 

It’s not that I made a conscious effort to habituate. Your brain learns to block out the noises that it hears all the time.  And the same can be true of vision so that’s why you often, if you ask me what do I pass on my way to work every day I might not be able to answer.  We think "Oh, I know exactly what I've passed but because I do it every day I don't pay attention to it because I’ve become habituated to all of those sights and I may not even notice that a store has closed or a new store has opened instead unless something draws my attention to it and I’m out of my habituated state."

So it just happens. The active part is not habituation but withstanding habituation. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

The world and workforce need wisdom. Why don’t universities teach it?

Universities claim to prepare students for the world. How many actually do it?

Photo: Take A Pix Media / Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Many university mission statements do not live up to their promise, writes Ben Nelson, founder of Minerva, a university designed to develop intellect over content memorization.
  • The core competencies that students need for success—critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and cross-cultural understanding, for example—should be intentionally taught, not left to chance.
  • These competencies can be summed up with one word: wisdom. True wisdom is the ability to apply one's knowledge appropriately when faced with novel situations.
Keep reading Show less

What the world will look like in the year 250,002,018

This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now

On Pangaea Proxima, Lagos will be north of New York, and Cape Town close to Mexico City
Surprising Science

To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.

Keep reading Show less

Sooner or later we all face death. Will a sense of meaning help us?

As a doctor, I am reminded every day of the fragility of the human body, how closely mortality lurks just around the corner.

Photo by Alex Boyd on Unsplash
Personal Growth

'Despite all our medical advances,' my friend Jason used to quip, 'the mortality rate has remained constant – one per person.'

Keep reading Show less

3 mind-blowing space facts with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tyson dives into the search for alien life, dark matter, and the physics of football.

Neil deGrasse Tyson: 3 mind-blowing space facts | Big Think | dotcom
Videos
  • Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson joins us to talk about one of our favorite subjects: space.
  • In the three-chaptered video, Tyson speaks about the search for alien life inside and outside of the Goldilocks Zone, why the term "dark matter" should really be called "dark gravity," and how the rotation of the Earth may have been the deciding factor in a football game.
  • These fascinating space facts, as well as others shared in Tyson's books, make it easier for everyone to grasp complex ideas that are literally out of this world.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…