Habituation is a type of learning that occurs when people become accustomed to a stimulus and stop reacting to it. Short-term habituation takes place when the brain reduces the number of neurotransmitters it releases. Long-term habituation takes place when connections in the synapses of the brain change their physical state. The difference between short-term and long-term habituation can be demonstrated with the help of an example. If a rat becomes habituated to objects in a maze after being allowed to play for a few minutes, that is short-term habituation. However, if the same objects are in the maze each time the rat comes to play, that experience can be termed long-term habituation.
Exposure therapy, used to encourage habituation, is used when treating certain mental disorders such as phobias. One of the benefits of exposure therapy is that the phobia sufferer is in control of how they encounter the scary stimulus. A habituation technique known as attention modification training is even being investigated as a means of treating obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety.
Can students use this to their advantage? The basic idea behind this process is that it can help people get rid of negative connotations associated with something. Students can make use of this to get rid of negative connotations about a particular activity they are doing that is obstructing them in their way, hence helping them in becoming less and less affected by it. This can be done by focusing their attention from a negative stimulus to a more neutral stimulus, habituating towards the latter so that in comparison, the former’s influence reduces significantly.
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