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NYTimes: Science: by Natalie Angier 
Researchers have shown that chronic stress in rats can rewire their brains, shrinking regions for executive decision-making and enlarging areas for habit formation. A neurobiologist at Stanford said, "This is a great model for understanding why we end up in a rut, and then dig ourselves deeper and deeper into that rut." Luckily, the stress-induced changes in behavior and the brain appear to be reversible. In four bully and Taser-free weeks, the previously stressed rats were able to innovate, discriminate, and stop their excessive bar-pushing. Atrophied synapses in the decision-making regions of prefrontal cortex resprouted, while the overgrown dendrites of the habit-prone sensorimotor striatum shrank.
I wonder how much conscious will can help pull you out of a stress loop? If, of course, you can figure out which of your behaviors are stress-induced.
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