Human beings are loss averse. Losing something hurts us way more than the pleasure of gaining the same thing. This is why we’d rather hold on to something even when there are possibilities of gains if we let go. This is also exactly why we value something we own a lot more than we would pay for it. That is, the willingness to accept is greater than the willingness to pay for something we own. The stoic Roman philosopher Seneca stated that the stoics avoid the pain of loss by not wanting to gain anything new at all!
The famous American sociologist W.E.B Du Bois said, “The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.” But this is so hard for most people, given that we are loss averse. When there exist stability and predictability in the current status quo, why change that and head towards change?
Interestingly, our neurons are surrounding by a matrix that stabilizes the synaptic connections and the structure has to break for the neurons to move and increase or decrease the strengths of the connections. Peri-neuronal nets (PNNs) are extracellular matrix structure, composed of proteoglycans, and are predominantly present around the inhibitory GABAergic neurons. They play an important role in synaptic plasticity. PNNs significantly affect the memory consolidation process by stabilizing the synaptic connections. On the other hand, PNN degradation facilitates learning. Studies have shown that increasing PNN leads to enhanced consolidation of memory in the hippocampus and decreasing its expression inhibits consolidation. PNNs create a balance between the excitatory and inhibitory circuitry and play a crucial role in the ending of the critical period plasticity. Studies have shown that the critical period plasticity can be opened with the degradation of PNNs.
Isn’t this just similar to breaking out of our comfort zones in order to change? Right from the level of minuscule neurons, we see that breaking out of the boundaries is necessary for learning, growth, and change. Once we undertake the uncomfortable task of learning, we can then rejoice in the sweet pleasure of accomplishment. The change is going to get anchored soon enough, so let us constantly push our limits and start breaking the walls that we have built around us, starting with the PNNs!