How to hack the brain

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Hello New York! Welcome back to DLDnyc and let's start the second day with some really important questions: Why do we so often fail to act in our own best interest? And what are the forces that influence our behavior? And most crucial: why we promise to skip the chocolate cake, only to find ourselves drooling our way into temptation when the dessert tray rolls around? The panel was kicked off by Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology & Behavioral Economics at Duke University and Moran Cerf, neuroscientist at the NYU department of Neurosurgery and Kellogg School of Business, discussing mechanisms of our psychology regarding behavior and ways to change certain kinds of habits.

It's possible to influence behavior during sleep

No matter if it comes to eating, smoking or other good or bad habits – it's always hard to change patterns when they are settled. But Moran explained to the audience that there are moments when we are less resistant and then it's possible to manipulate our subconsciousness. "When people sleep the brain is susceptible to external influence", he outlined. "In those moments, your brain actually listens and rehearses. Then you can intervene, for example using smells that the body responds to." In this way you can actually change behavior. People were, for example, able to significantly decrease the desire to smoke cigarettes by creating an association in the brain between smoking and a bad smell. "This is a kind of brain washing", Dan concluded. "Using such methods we can make people think differently." But is that immoral? That's a difficult question to answer. Sure thing: When it comes to temptations we fail all the time. "That's why we have to be forced to change our behavior", said Dan. "We need to be offered something, otherwise nothing changes." And, according to the two experts, this can happen in a moral and sometimes in a slightly immoral way.

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