Posts Tagged ‘glial cells’

“Habit helps . . . habit hurts . . . “

Habit helps us.

Habit hurts us.

Bit of a contradiction, eh?

Wikipedia: Bust of Janus, Vatican Museums ……………………………………………………………………………
Our brain wants the best for us

The brain loves us and wants to serve us well. One of the great gifts the brain gives us is to rapidly (or less rapidly) give us what we need:

the capacity to do repetitive tasks easily and well.

“Mindlessly” as my friend says.

(Except of course it does require the mind, and requires its exquisite ability to do numerous valuable things “for us,” without our having to “think about it.” Habit is a great friend. It allows us to almost effortlessly do those things that we need to do, perhaps every day (drive a car, do the routine things needed to teach a class, do the routine things needed to nurture our families, and do the routine things needed in the workplace, etc., etc., etc.). 😮

So how can habit hurt us?

Habit can hurt us in two ways:

(1) Habit can allow our thinking patterns to become less active and dull, to the extent that we not only do the habit mindlessly,we don’t exercise our neuronal cells and brain circuitry (including the “non-electric” glial cells), and our brains become “flabby,” somewhat analogous to muscles that we don’t use actively.

(2) Habit can actually become counter-productive, because our brains love to “hang onto” things that are relatively effortless to do, and so the habit “hangs around” to “serve” us, to the detriment of the purpose it was originally intended to serve, which purpose would have been a good one in the beginning (or else our brain would not have started it up for us, eh?).

So here’s the “tricky” part.

How do you keep the habits that are still serving you well (piece of cake) and how do you let go of the habits that are hurting you (not as easy as you might think!).

Tune in to future posts and maybe we can share some ideas about the process of change.

Blessings and Friendship, Doc Meek, Tuesday, June 1, 2010

At Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; not at South Jordan, Utah, USA

P.S. The paradox:

Habit helps efficiency. Habit hurts or limits change.

Test your brain knowledge: neurons think, glia glue?

I promised to tell you more about a remarkable book I read recently:

The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New Discoveries about the Brain Are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science, by Dr. R. Douglas Fields (2009).

Dr. Fields tells us about the two general types of cells in the brain: the neurons and the glia (glia means glue).

In a brilliant stroke, in his heading for Chapter One, Dr. Fields asks the creative question about glial cells:


I have been helping kids overcome learning problems for more than 30 years, teaching them that we are all smarter than we think.

Dr. Fields tells us why.

Glial cells constitute 85% of our brain and they are thinking cells.

Glial cells are thinking cells?

We always thought that neurons did the thinking job. We always thought the glia were just there to hold things in place, to hold things together (glia means glue).

The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New  Discoveries about the Brain Are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science

I had no idea that the “white matter” (the glial-cell brain) comprises 85% of our active learning brain, that it is an intrinsic part of our cognitive functioning.

We have been referencing only 15% all along (the neuronal-cell brain) and now we have the good news that we have more brain horsepower than we ever thought possible.

Thank you, Dr. Fields!

I am grateful that you have written about your astounding research findings in ordinary language and with incredible creativity, so that the everyday reader has no trouble following the details of your amazing discoveries.

Book cover photo from


Hey, I’m the “brain guy.” I thought I knew a little bit about the brain, eh? [I guess the operative word is “little,” right?]

I’m dumbfounded.

We have been primarily referencing only 15% of the brain all along (the neuronal-cell brain) and now we have another 85% we can connect with for thinking purposes. This is great! Now maybe we can “smarten up,” eh? 😮

Previously we thought (we thought we thought with only the neuronal brain) that the glia were mainly for insulation and packing. “Stuffing” if you like. 😮

Now we find that glial cells not only insulate and protect, they control the electrical-firing neurons. Without using any electrical current! As the son of a Journeyman Electrician, I find this new discovery not easy to believe, eh?

– Doc Meek, May 11, 2010, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

Contact Doc Meek

    November 2020
    S M T W T F S
    Parent and Teacher Choice