Implications for medication adherence and Collabree

Pavlov’s cats have trained someone to give them treats habitually.

What is a habit?

We often talk about the need to develop sticky habits in order to improve medication adherence. What exactly does this mean and what do we know about habit formation from neuroscience?

A habit is basically a learned association between a stimulus or cue in the environment and a behavioral action or set of actions (a routine). The actions triggered by the cue can be relatively automatic. So, for example, your alarm clock goes off and you find yourself in the bathroom, still groggy, already brushing your teeth. In order to develop a habit, we first have…


Patient engagement has become a bigger priority for health care providers in recent years. Lack of engagement can especially be a problem for patients with chronic diseases, who carry a significant burden with managing their own care and account for a large share of health care costs.

Programs designed to increase engagement have often been based on the classical economic idea that patients are completely rational decision makers. Despite being grounded in economic principles, many of these programs have had minimal impact or even caused unintended consequences. For example, consumer-driven initiatives required patients to pay a high deductible for health…


Collabree co-founder enjoying a break on Lake Zurich

Self-control, focus, persistence. All of these skills are crucial in achieving long-term goals. But… sometimes it’s simply time for gelato. Or, a refreshing break at the lake if you’re fortunate to have one close by as we do here at Collabree.

Which is more important? A study out this week by Katharina Bernecker (University of Zurich) and Daniela Becker (Radboud University) suggests the capacity to experience short-term enjoyment or pleasure contributes at least as much to well being as effectively exercising self-control. Moreover, the ability to immerse oneself in meeting the immediate hedonic need instead of being distracted by thoughts…


In a now famous behavioral experiment, Mischel and colleagues (1972) measured children’s ability to delay gratification by asking them to hold off on eating a marshmallow placed in front of them. If they were successful in waiting, they received a second marshmallow. This study, which introduced the marshmallow test, inspired a host of investigations linking children’s ability to forego an immediate reward in order to get a larger reward later with measures of future success such as educational and financial achievement or better health.

Unfortunately, the simplified association between a child’s ability to wait before indulging and his or her…

Anjali Raja Beharelle

Trained neuroscientist studying human behavior and decision-making. Co-Founder of Collabree, Ltd., a digital health solution to improve medication adherence.

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