Our last post looked at the power that associations have in organizing experiences presented to our brains, and we considered the phenomenon of smell as one example of this. We saw that if certain things are associated with pleasant or unpleasant experiences, then those things can actually become pleasant or unpleasant to our brains through the power of association.
The importance of association is not limited to pleasant or unpleasant experiences. The larger phenomenon at work is one which brain scientists and cognitive psychologists are only beginning to appreciate and which affects every area of life. The basic principle was summarized by Dr. Norman Doidge in his book The Brain that Changes Itself. Channeling the work of neurobiologist Carla Shatz, Doidge summarized the basic principle as follows: Neurons that fire together wire together.
This principle has an almost unlimited amount of implications for psychotherapy, study skills, our understanding of abnormal psychology, and many other areas of life.