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Get a twenty serving pack for free. Valued at seventy nine dollars with your first purchase. That's athletic greens dot com slash Rogan. All right. My guest today. This was a fun one, a fun one and a very interesting and informative one. My guest today is Andrew Huberman. He is an American neuroscientist and tenured professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. And we talked about all kinds of things with the brain, with the way the brain functions, how to repair aspects of the brain, the fact that your eyeballs are a part of your brain.
Did you know that? Well, you do now.
Please welcome Andrew Huberman, the Joe Rogan Experience, joined by ramekin podcast. Andrew, what's happening? Great. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. Excited to talk to you about this. Just sort of for an introduction. Tell me what you do.
So I'm a neuroscientist, meaning I'm a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology, Stanford School Medicine. So I run a laboratory. I teach a little bit. I teach neuroanatomy to medical students. But mainly my lab does research. So I've got students and postdocs and we're trying to figure out the answers to two problems. The first problem is how to regenerate the damaged nervous system, in particular the connections between the eye and the brain to restore vision to the blind.
So that's a big mission of ours and to prevent vision loss in people that are losing their vision. And the other thing that we're doing is we're focusing a lot on stress in other states of mind. So almost assessed with the idea that all our states of mind come from the brain and the body. And we're trying to figure out what happens in the brain and body when we're stressed and how to control it. What happens in the brain and Bob.
When we are creative and how to control it and essentially for all states of mind, but rather than try and tackle the really high level stuff like flow and states of all, we're really focused on these states of stress and things like focus and the ability to think clearly and do certain things athletically or cognitively, because, first of all, there's less suffering. There are lot people out there. They're suffering from an inability to control their states of mind.
And also, there's great potential for people who aren't suffering to be able to create and perform and do better things once we can understand how those states come about.
That's an interesting way of putting it suffering because they can't control their state of mind that that is the case.
But that's not like a politically correct way of describing it. I guess I never thought about it to be accurate.
Well, I think that's fair to say that all our states of mind and body and I say mind and body, because the nervous system, which is the brain, the spinal cord and all that stuff, it connects to our body and about body can our brains. So we can't really separate those but states of mind, which include the stuff in our skull and the body. Those essentially dictate our whole life experience. Right. So whether or not we're feeling calm when we want to be calm, whether or not we're feeling stressed, when we'd rather be calm, whether or not we are feeling focused, when we need to do work, or whether or not we're feeling creative when we only created all of that stems from the nervous system.
The other organs of the body are involved, but the nervous system, the brain and those connections. So really, what's about. So if you see somebody who's in a state of depression or you see somebody who's in a state of flow and creativity, you can be pretty sure that that's reflecting the activity of neurons in the brain.
It's the idea that the body and the brain are inseparable. Most people who are physically active accept that and appreciate that, and they know that this is probably true. But there's a lot of people that kind of want to deny that and concentrate only on the brain. And particularly like there's a psychiatrist that will prescribe medication before they'll prescribe exercise. And this is it's a controversial subject.
That's what I meant by saying that your you are unable to control aspects of of of your brain or aspects of the way you're viewing things, the way you feel about things. But yeah.
So I think if we take a step back, we just kind of think about what the brain and nervous system does. And again, nervous system includes all of it. We can say the brain is special, right. This brain, there is something fundamentally important about the brain part because it's somebody who, let's say, has a limb amputated. It doesn't fundamentally change who they are. It can change what they can do. But there and there'll be aspects of their personality and temperament that might shift.
But who they are hasn't changed. Whereas if someone has a brain lesion where the brain is degenerating, that person is fundamentally different. So there is something special about the real estate in our skulls. But that said, the job of the brain is really to combine our experience of what's going on in our body with what's going on in our mind and to react and behave to things and adapt away.
So if I may, there's just sort of like if we take a step back and just think there are basically five things that the nervous system is responsible for doing versus sensation. Sensation is non-negotiable. It's happening all the time. Sound waves are coming in. Your feet are in contact with your shoes or the floor. That's all happening. And you can't control it because we have sensors, things in our eye, our tongue or nose or skin or years that take physical events in the universe.
Photons of light, sound waves touch. You know, physical pressure on the skin. And it transforms that into one language. And the language is the language of electricity of neurons. Now, perception is the next thing that the brain does. And perception is all about which sensations we are conscious of. So if I say, you know, the contact of your hands with the table, now you're conscious of it. That's just your perceptual window. It's like a spotlight.
It just goes straight to your hands. So there's sensation, perception. And then there are these things we call emotions which are brain body states. They tend to make us either want to get up and move or stay still. They tend to make us think this is a good place for me to be at mentally or physically or I want to shift this. And then there are thoughts which we could discuss in detail, if you want, which kind of arise spontaneously.
They're kind of running in the background all the time, like Pop-Up Windows on a badly filter, an Internet connection. But we can also deliberately have a thought. Like I can say that pad of paper to my right is yellow. I can decide that in the same way I can do the fifth thing, which is an action. So you've got sensations, perceptions, feelings, slash emotions, thoughts and actions. And all five of those include the brain and the body.
But how much brain and how much body is shifted by a kind of underlying let's just think of it as a tide. Like the level of the tide. And that's the autonomic nervous system. So if I'm suddenly stressed for whatever reason, my perceptual window is going to shift. My eyes are literally going to change their focus. My world will become more like portrait mode. I'll see you and everything else will become blurry when I'm calm. Asha panoramic vision.
I can see everything around me, so I better.
So my state, my internal state of alertness or sleepiness impacts all this. And in sleep, which is the opposite extreme of stress. I'm not in relation to anything else. I mean, I'm not perceiving anything. I'm sensing things non-negotiable. I'm not having real thoughts. But the thoughts are kind of disoriented in space and time and behaviors. Done. You're lying down. You're sometimes paralyzed in sleep.
So when I say states, it's really about this dynamic shift between what we're perceiving and how we're perceiving it.
And we could go really in-depth in this or not. But states of mine are fundamentally, I think to me anyway, are the most important aspect of trying to understand how the brain works, because ultimately, if you want understand mental illness and mental health, if you wanted to understand high performance, which is something my lab is really interested in, you won't understand any of that. You have to understand how these states of mind and body relate, because the autonomic nervous system, which is strongly impacting these states, is in the body.
Eating it is the basis of it is connections between the brain and body.
So you're analyzing people in stress states. And are you doing cognitive function tests on these people in stress states versus people and calm, placid states like how are you? How how are you doing? You're doing like similar tests.
Yeah. So they're two states that, like, we can take that whole tangled mess that I just threw throughout on the table and in simplified and say, look, there two states. I think if we could really crack, we could really understand the underlying neural mechanisms and we could understand how people could get themselves into these two states. We would greatly improve human health and human performance cognitively and physically.
And those two states are the the state of sleep. So not just the importance of sleep. I know you had map on here. So your great sleep researcher, not just that sleep is important, but how to get better at sleeping, how to access sleep. So a lot of people struggle with that. And the other stay is clear, calm, focused. Those two states for my lab right now are the target states where, you know, there's so many states.
But if we can figure out how those work and how to put allow people to put themselves into those states, I think it's my belief that we'll do human kind of great service.
OK. So when you say sleep, the state of sleep. Like, what techniques are you talking about to achieve the state of sleep or do a better job of sleeping?
Yeah. So when people come into my laboratory, we essentially start pressure testing them from the moment they walk in the door. So we have a laboratory. We do some animal work. We work on mice. And we study states like fear and courage. And we're interested in what leads to winning in certain forms of competition between animals and these kinds of things, aggression, those kind of very primal states. We also have a human lab. So people come into the laboratory.
We have an equivalent lab essentially to our mouse lab.
People put on VR goggles. We wire them into a lot of gear that allows us to measure things like heart rate breathing. We're measuring pupil size, eye tracking. And in some people, because they are neurosurgery patients, we have access to the brain. We drop electrodes down into the brain. Cord from the human amygdala. So you have a hole in their head.
They have a hole in their skull. The neurosurgeons, actually, which I am not, tell us that, you know, it's no big deal. Right. That that you know, that basically they look at the skull as kind of a poorly evolved device that they always tell me, you know, you're much better off the titanium plate there anyway. It's much stronger.
So they don't have a problem putting a little hole in the skull. These are search. These are patients that have other issues.
Right. So they're saying you're better off with a titanium plate than skull bone.
Well, if you're concerned about concussion or anything, if you really want to protect the brain, you would you know, you could build a better device to protect the brain.
But isn't but isn't. The real brain damage comes from the brain slamming against the inside wall of the skull. Yeah, and these are gonna be better with titanium. Yeah.
I mean, this is neurosurgeons and they're you know, they're in foam inside. Yeah. There are synthetic materials that, you know, they use to protect against sloshing around.
Do they. How much how far do they go with those. They to like remove the top of someone's head and replace it with titanium.
Yeah. Large portions. Lamon Johs. I've seen windows in the skull that are, you know, the size of of an iPhone.
Well, sure. You flip it open. Oh, no, no. But now keep in mind that laser lit a manhole cover for your brain, basically. Really? Is that available online? Congemi looked at it's looking lot already.
Well, you know, a guy who used to work in my lab who's now a nerd. Who's now neural link, a neurosurgeon. One of those guys is a fucking bring on the A.I. hyper world.
They I'm scared. Among other things. I mean, I think that well, I always say, you know, all of human evolution is based on human neuroplasticity, the ability to learn and acquire new functions in the nervous system or where our biology kind of cliffs often can't support us.
And what we want to do. We build technology. Right.
And this is the idea of innovation. Steps in and says, I've got an idea to accelerate this process. And then you get Captain Super Genius who thinks it's no big deal. Cut giant holes in the top of your head and stick these wires in there.
I mean, I think there's that version of it. And I think what I haven't spoken to them directly, but except this one individual there. But, you know, first of all, they're not I don't think they're think about large windows in the skull unless there's a clinical need.
They're behind this Amerada quarter. Behind the ear. Yeah.
Route in through the bone there. And the other thing is that I think it's very likely that the first 10 years of that work.
We'll be clinical in nature. Movement disorders, Parkinson's. And, of course, because I said that they'll probably beat that by, you know, five years.
Well, the quote that made me uncomfortable was when Elan told me you're not going to have to talk to communicate anymore. Mm hmm. I was like, oh, Jesus Christ, where are we going with this?
Well, this is interesting because so have a good friend who's a neurosurgeon at UCSF. We don't know each other since we were little kids, since we were nine. His name is Eddie Chang and he's kind of the world expert. He's a neurosurgeon, but he's also the world expert in speech and language. And what he's been doing is decoding essentially figure out what neural signals come out of the brain that allow us to speak in a certain way. So let's say I I wanted to build a device that would allow you to speak eight languages tomorrow that you don't know today.
Mm hmm. The reflexive idea is that people like Eddie and people like me and maybe that the neural link folks are gonna go in and build chips that are going to stimulate the hippocampus and you learn faster and do all that. There's a whole other version of this. And it gets right back to this issue of brain and body that we're talking about before now. Speech is a brain thing. You think about what you want to say, maybe for a joke or hear in it and it's in your head.
But it's transformed. Meaning those nerve signals go in the form of electricity to the pharynx and larynx. And you say things like, hello, my name is Mike. Is Andrew right? That transformation is happening at the muscle. So in theory, if I know that in English right. And I know the nerve signals that come out of that area of of cortex, that speech area that say, hello, my name is Andrew. Well, I can take those look at how it controls the Fairrington larynx and insert maybe a little box.
Maybe I don't even have to put it under the skin. Maybe it's a device that I hold so that when I say hello, my name is Andrew, but I dial it to Mandarin or French. I'll just say and I can't do this because I don't speak Mandarin or French. Hello, my name is Andrew. I'll think that. Say it in English in my head. But my fairrington larynx will say it in Mandarin or French.
But isn't the problem with the way language is structured in different languages? Just it, wouldn't you? I'm sure you've read translations from Russian to English. Sure. That's really weird. Very different for English to Russian is even weirder sometimes. Right. So this is really eddys work. But because we're such good friends, we talk about this a lot. One of the fundamental discoveries that he's made, and I should just mention all these neurosurgery patients, they have epilepsy or something else.
There's a reason for opening up the skull and going in there that we're not just just tourists. There was a time a couple decades ago when you could do this kind of stuff. And there's some very interesting experiments that came out of that just because you could decide to study rage in humans and go in there and start probing around lobotomies, lobotomies.
Yeah, there's a obviously really interesting and famous and kind of sad history around that, but also some interesting data came out of it. So, you know, a patient will come in, they'll do this, they'll record these areas. And what what he's found, it's so interesting because if I let's just say with that same statement, hello, my name is Andrew.
There's a neuron in my cortex that responds when I say that. And when I want to say that. But if I just change it slightly and I say, hello, my name is Andrew, I make it a question. There's a neuron right next door that's encodes that turns out there's a map of inflection. So regardless of language, there's a map of it's not quite meaning, but there's a map of intonation and inflection in the brain. So in theory, because that map is so regular across cultures, he's looked now in China, in Chinese speaking people, in English speaking people and people who have a second language.
He's even has some interesting data about people who have upspeak. They're really annoying. Kind.
Oh, I hate that. Yeah, that's a lot near where you live. Yeah. That's a San Francisco tech thing, is it? Yeah. It's like what they're doing is letting you know that they're one of the tribe. OK. And we're all in this together. And I think like you do and you can trust me because I'm an original.
Well, it might reflect a subtle brain damage. You think? I think the data show that it's a distortion of the of the regular map.
I think it's the same thing as a Southern accent. I think you're just fitting in with your environment, because I know people that have adopted that shit once they've gotten into the tech world and like, hey, fuckface, you didn't used to talk like that.
Or the people they go to to England and start speaking with a role like Madonna. Oh, did she do that?
Yes, she. I don't know. Pop culture carefully. Yes, she did. Yeah.
I moved to Texas almost hard saying y'all two weeks in and give myself two weeks some a tryout. Y'all stay.
Well, some of this stuff is learned. Are you moving? Yeah. I've heard rumors of that. But I guess. Okay, I'm sorry to hear. Sorry for California.
Congratulations, Texas there. You know, these maps have some regularities across people because when we're born into the world, you know, we are not a completely clean slate. There's a kind of a big map that expects the world, including language, to be a certain way. And we can't expect that we're gonna be born in China or born in France, are born in California or northern California, for that matter. So the map is what we call semi malleable.
It's not a rigid, concrete, hardwired map. So what makes you think that this upspeak is like damage? Well, so I asked Eddie about this. Eddie Chang, my friend, this neurosurgeon who is YOUNGUN, Premier world, not kind of he is the world expert on speech and language and the neural transformations and how he controls the fangs.
All that stuff. And I said, what's with the upspeak thing? Mm hmm. He said, yeah, you know, we see that sometimes. And I'm concerned about that. And when a neurosurgeon tells you they're concerned, you kind of go, oh, hey, what are you concerned, Mandingos?
There's something wrong with the map and there's gonna get this, you know? So maybe that's, you know, it could be because of upbringing and people you know, the brain is plastic as adults, too. And not in the same way it's plastic in childhood. But, you know, if you are forced to learn another language, your but your brain will fundamentally shift.
Neuroplasticity is a real thing. And I think it's interesting you raise this kind of cultural component, because actually it was Eddie's adviser guy, Mike Merzenich was really the one who discovered adult neuroplasticity, you know, in the 70s and 80s. And Mike, actually scientific great grandparents, David. He won't talk. Some weasel won the Nobel Prize for showing there are critical periods, these periods of development after which the brain cannot change. And they had important implications for amblyopia and eye stuff.
Merzenich came along and said, you know, I don't buy that. And he started doing experiments with his students and postdocs where they would create a.. An essential need or contingency. Like if the animal doesn't eat unless it learned something. Then the brain can change. If you break down learning events into kind of smaller, more focused events, the brain can change. As an adult at essentially any age. And so. The strongest drive for adult neuroplasticity is focus.
It's the ability to say this is really important. It's making a soda straw view of the world. It's almost like being in a state of stress. And the best way to do that for a young person in adolescence or maybe even older, is these social pressures. If they're strong, they will shape and rewire the brain. I mean, I look at what's happening the world right now, and I think we are in a state of immense neuroplasticity.
Everybody is having to rewire their understanding what's going on.
So just to sort of put it, you know, kind of a bowl of some sort. On the speech and language thing, I don't think brain machine interface is going to be all about sticking chips.
But still, let's get back to the upspeak thing. Sure. Well, look, I think it's damage. Like, what is what is it about upspeak?
Well, he just thinks that the map, which shows up kind of normally in in I mean, most this pie, the first time in human history, people have used this upspeak. It's also the first time in human history people have typed with their thumbs.
I was listening to two guys the airport back when you go to the airport and these two guys, the airport, we're talking in upspeak. And it was like as clear as day to me, like they were letting each other know that they're in the tribe.
And, you know, our member, Jamie, had a tech problem once and he was on the phone with this lady who was doing upspeak when she's talking him. And we both looked to just like you, yuck.
It does kind of create a kind of visceral like this.
Like noshes can't trust those people. I can't trust someone who talks like that because I know you're unoriginal like you. Not not what not. Look, most of us are clearly at least mostly influenced by the people around us. But it's not just that. It's like you've changed how you talk to fit in with this.
There's a tech world. There's tech language that's tech speak. It's English, but it's tech. Speak English. It's letting you know.
And there does seem to be a body. There's lots to do. So spinal X, I don't trust them. I don't trust them.
I think they're sneaky while trying get the data from trying. Get the data from Eddie being halfway joking here. If you're like a upspeak personally. Hey man, I've always loved your show. But then you said you don't trust people to talk like me joking but also stop doing that.
Stop fucking doing that. I know what you're doing.
I think I think Eddie would say that there's some distortion in the way they're using this map. But how did it start?
I think it started with one really smart person who's probably a little autistic who talk like that because they were trying to keep it together. And then everyone else was like, I want to be as smart as Jon. And then they started talking like that. And then it became a thing sort of like accents, like I grew up in Boston. Right. They talk in a weird way. And I picked it up. And then one time I heard myself on television, I hurt myself talk like that.
When I was 19, I was like, oh, my God, I sound like a fucking idiot. What is wrong with me?
Like, because I only lived there at that time for like six years, but I adopted it whole hog.
And I was like, what? What's wrong with me? Like, why might I wanted to fit in? That's what it was. I'd moved there when I was 13 and I tried to fit in. And so I had adopted this speech pattern. I didn't realize it until I heard it.
Like you knew you listen to a tape of yourself, you actually find out what you really sound like. You know, like you do. You watch your performances.
I have to watch standup. I have to watch some of those podcasts. I try not to unless it's important, unless it's like something that I need to watch over again. Like, I'll probably listen to this one over again, because you're probably gonna say some things that are you already have that they need to reflect on and research. And, you know, this is a very interesting subject to me, very important to me. And there's many different parts of this that I wanted to talk to you about, particularly how people respond to damaged brains and what can be done to repair damaged brains and stress.
What we're talking about earlier states of stress and how they reflect on your ability to think and assess and resolve problems, because it seems to me that me personally, if I'm tired, if I'm like particularly working out right, if I'm walking out with, like a like a moiety trainer and he has like a particular combination, then he wants me to if I'm exhausted, like my monkey brain can't put that combination together. I'm like, what do I do again?
Left, right. Low kick. Body need the body. Elbow clench. Like what is it again. Like it's simple. It's very simple. Right. But if I'm tired, it's not simple anymore. So what's going on. Like why why does being tired have an effect on the way you perceive things and what memory and combinations of things that you have to put together. And that's nothing. That's just being tired. That's not your life depending upon it, which is a huge factor.
And for fighters, there are many, many fighters who do really well in the gym when there's no. Sure, they're comfortable. You look at them, you're like, wow, this guy's incredibly skillful. He must be incredible. Like when he fights must be amazing when you see him fight and they just lock up, like for whatever reason, they can't they can't rise the occasion. They are they are dwarfed by the moment. And whatever it is, whether it's the way they're perceiving these threats, the way their mind is just wired or the way they have learned to handle situations, maybe they have a series of bad memories that gets relayed every time they're in a situation and they start concentrating more on failure than on staying calm and trusting the process, which is a big factor.
Your training is supposed to come out almost in this Zen like state. And when you're fighting, the whole idea is to maintain calm and maintain this sort of center as much as possible. And when someone is pressuring you and attacking you and talking shit to you in particular, what they're trying to do is weaken that center where they try and do is break that up so you can't have a happy place. There's no happy place for you. And then you see people fall apart.
You see him fold. And it's fascinating because it's not a physical thing, like the physical body is still capable of performing. But there's something going on with stress where the brain can't send the orders to the body correctly. And you're so overwhelmed with anxiety or fear of failure or just the overwhelming reality of the consequences of making a mistake that you crumble.
Know, this is why we're obsessed with clear common focus. Yeah. Or sleep as a good jumping off point for, you know, because we want vecci want to tackle all the states. But that's a good jumping.
We're jumping all over the place. But let's good. We started with sleep. So let's get back to sleep. So sleep and stress make a good sort of counterexamples. So but if we're just going to focus on sleep. First of all, sleep is the only time that you're in complete relation to only one thing, and that's yourself. It's also a time in which there's a core operation of the brain in wakefulness. This is especially apparent in stress.
But it's happening all the time where your brain is trying to do two things in wakefulness. And I realize we're talking about sleep. Most of what your brain is trying to do is pass things off to reflexive behavior. So I don't have to think about picking up water after thing, about walking down the hall. I just do it. I just breathe. I just move. I eat. I'm not conscious of it. There's another mental operation which is very demanding but extremely important.
And this is encompassing a lot of different aspects of neural circuitry and function. But the brain wants to figure out duration, path and outcome. How long something in the last. What's the path to do it and how is it going to work out?
Those are the two things that the brain is mainly managing during waking states. And of course, it's keeping your heart rate going and your breathing going, your digesting going. That's all running in the background.
When you go to sleep. Your perception of space and time, not outer space. Less. That's what you're thinking about. But space and time becomes untethered. It becomes very fluid. So when you lie down to go to sleep at night and you're drowsy, you stop doing these duration path outcome analysis. And if you have trouble sleeping, it's because you're still doing what's the narration, what's the path, what's the outcome? Your brain's looping in that.
So when you go into sleep, it's the one time in which the brain can untether space and time. Like if this were a dream, you know, your dog could float in here and sit down on the table and then morph into somebody that, you know, from long ago. And we'd be OK with that because his dream. So that period of six to eight or 10 hours, whatever you need, is essential for resetting neural circuits in the brain.
There's some chemical events, too, but neural circuits. So that during wakefulness you can do duration, path, outcome, like learning a new martial art move.
So it's the untethered aspect of it is crucial. It's absolutely crucial. And how do we know this? We know this. So when people come into my lab, we study these two states. We put them into VR goggles and we deliver very real not cartoons and animation, but very real 360 video, things like claustrophobia. If you're claustrophobic diving with great white sharks, if you don't like sharks, spiders crawling up you, we find your pain point.
Mm hmm. We bring you into a state of stress and we find in everybody and this is not necessarily a new phenomenon, that your pupils dilate when your pupils dilate, the optics of your world changes. And you are looking at the visual world, which is space, physical space, and you start slicing time differently. If you ever been stressed, it feels like things are taking forever.
That's because your body is sending your brain more signals per unit time. It's saying, like, my body's active, my body's acting, my body's acting, my body's active. Think about when you're drowsy. Your body is sending fewer signals to the brain per unit time. And what ends up happening is the brain uses physical space and use these signals from the body. We know this from neural recordings to start creating a space time relationship. The space time relationship really says, let's just take the jujitsu example.
Even though I've never done jujitsu. You're trying to figure out where do I place my hand? Where's my grip? How do I move my leverage? What am I going to do when you're trying to sequence thing its duration, path and outcome in sleep, the forebrain essentially shuts off. There's some other things that happen to, of course, and the brain starts to drift and idle into these states that where duration path and outcome analysis become impossible. We also put people into deeply relaxed states.
So we're studying three different ways to do that. One is hypnosis, which is not like, you know, charm hypnosis, stage hypnosis, but medical hypnosis. My colleague David Spiegel in the department psychiatry is called world expert in hypnosis for pain management, et cetera, trauma. You can put people into hypnotic states which are very sleep like they're a little different than sleep, but they're like a shallow stage of sleep. We also use particular patterns of breathing or respiration to bring people into states that are sort of like sleep.
It's like a very shallow level sleep, but they're completely immobile.
Or in some cases we've we've studied things like more traditional forms of meditation, all that's less the focus these days.
What we find is that the brain can go into states where duration, path and outcome, what cognitive processing, physical activity is impossible. And the brain starts to show wavelike activity that's very similar to sleep. And what I didn't tell you is that we also have people do a cognitive task. So while they're in a very stressful environment, like with hights or they're being bombarded with, you know, snake experience or or we have a bunch of Difford experiences, they're required to do a cognitive task, which is the duration path, outcome task.
And then we put them into these states of pseudo sleep and then we evaluate their ability to perform in these tasks again. And what we found is interesting.
What we found is that there first of all, these sleep like states can be very restorative. I imagine that you mentioned the flow tank earlier, like maybe float tanks. And we could talk about why the float tank would put you into a pseudo sleep like state. Certain substances put us into sleep like states naps and just letting the mind drift can put us in a sleep like states. And those sleep like states due to things that are very powerful. One is they reset our ability to do these very taxing, demanding duration, path, outcome kind of brain functions as well.
They allow people to access sleep more easily. So we want people to be able to get into deep sleep because nothing is as restorative as deep sleep, because in deep sleep and in the states that I'm talking about, these relate deeply. Relax states duration, path, outcome analysis are impossible. And I think being able to toggle back and forth between these states is really where high performance emerges. So. For the very stressed human being who's suffering from generalized anxiety, we study those types of patients.
But in addition, for people who are doing well in life but are high performers, so we do some work with the military, with some athletes. We've had David Goggins out to the lab, but you can't use him.
We can't use him. So he's an extreme outlier, right? He's too far on the outside. So what's remarkable about him is he has figured out how to tap into. He can force himself into duration path outcome. Now, I don't know his state while he's running, if he's relaxed, if he's aggro the whole time. I don't know. But he is a bit of a mutant in the sense that. But he's created and here's where he's he's returned himself into the.
He's figured it out. He's figured it out. He was not born that way. We know that.
Well, that's most special thing about him really is. And also that he's willing to share that he was at one point in time a large, fat, lazy guy, you know, and then he became this savage that you see, and he forced his mind into that particular state.
Well, in the states that will allow people to go, there often are fear states, anxiety states, things that are extremely high pressure because the adult brain especially doesn't want to change. You know, we're basically born. We get wired up by our experience. We get wired up by what we're exposed to. Brain plasticity is very passive for the first 25 years of life. You know, if you're a child, you're the things you hear and see and do are shaping you.
My kids come home saying things they've never even heard before. It's amazing. And as an adult, you have to crack into that neural circuitry and reshape it. And why is that?
What is it about adults? Because I have my own theory, and this is just a martial arts based theory. Young kids learn so fast. They learn so fast. But I always feel like it's because they don't have jobs. They don't have a family to take care of. They don't have a girlfriend who's on their back. They don't have bills and the IRS breathing down their neck. They don't have anything. So they can just think about it and their mind.
Like if if they have a hard drive right now, they have a one terabyte hard drive. They got like a hundred gigs full. They have all this space.
You could fill that space up with technique and movement. And. And it becomes their whole life because it's thrilling and it's exciting to learn. And their body heals quicker so they can they can force themselves into situations with adults. It's extremely difficult to find the bandwidth, to find the amount of time to really completely focus on something because you have so many distractions. What does that make sense that.
Oh, absolutely. What you just described is it is a beautiful description of the top contour.
And below that, what's happening is in in childhood, the whole brain is literally more plastic because there's more space for the neurons to move around to make connections.
The whole environment, the chemicals that are swirling around in there are set for plasticity because we were basically designed to come into the world and be customized to our experience. I mean, if the human animal is exceptionally good at any one thing, it's that.
So if you're an adult, say if you're a 35 year old man with a family or a 35 year old woman with a family and a job, and you want to learn a new skill, what is the best way to force your brain to accept these new patterns and learn this quickly by attacking two separate parts of a process?
Neuroplasticity is not an event. It's a process and has two parts. The first one is if you want to learn and change your brain as an adult, there has to be a high level of focus and engagement. There's absolutely no way around this because so focus and intensity and that kind of the gorgons phenotype. Right. I think Gogu is now a noun. A verb in a pronoun. Right. It's like, hey, it's amazing. So you're gonna goggins this process.
We need to do is you need to regardless of how agitated you feel, you have to lean in and focus extremely hard. Now, the reason for that is that there's a neurochemical nor epinephrine, also called adrenaline. Same thing that's released in the brain and body. Most people back off at that point because they feel this agitation. But we have to remember that that noradrenalin was designed to get us into movement. That's the purpose of noradrenalin, to take us out of stillness and into movement.
And then the other thing we have to do is we have to take that elevated level of alertness and we have to focus it. And there's a second neuro modulator called a CDO Coaling, which is secreted from this little structure in the base of the forebrain. When we visually focus on something or in the case of maybe if you're doing auditory learning, when you focus with your auditory attention, can I be positive first?
Yeah. So acetylcholine, you can taken a supplement and nor epinephrine you can actually get from float ice tanks. Like you can get it from crowd chambers, you can get it from crowd therapy. So we're using those strategies of taking like acetylcholine is actually an alpha brain. We want to suppliments my company cells. When you take that along with float tanks and doing. Excuse me. Crowd chambers and do some intense exercise or whatever you're trying to get good at with intense focus.
Could those things accelerate that process?
Almost certainly increases the plasticity, the rate of plasticity.
So you would recommend if someone is trying to better at something like a cryo chamber would actually accelerate the process of learning.
Yeah. So, yes. So. So the reason for that, though, you don't necessarily need a crowd chamber. What you need are so we have these requirements. We need urgency and focus to trigger plasticity. Right. That's one part of the process. I've mentioned the second part yet neuroplasticity is triggered when urgency and focus combine a acetylcholine calling is released for their in nardo's out there. It's called the nucleus bacillus. But that doesn't matter. Is a little compartment of neurons in the base your forebrain that doesn't like to release acetylcholine on a regular basis.
It's a it's greedy, it's greedy, and it doesn't want to use that with your child. It'll rain your brain with Exito calling. But as an adult, 30, 40, Updyke A because the you know, Mother Nature designed us to learn what we need to learn and then do that reproduce and die. I mean, not to be you know how rew dark about it, but I would say evolution is not about us.
It's about the offspring. Yes. Hundred percent.
You know, it's and then it's not even about them. It's about their offspring. It never ends.
We are being manipulated from the inside. Yes. I mean that's what, you know, kind of drew me in neurobiology, is that all these complex things you see in the world, it's all internal.
So. You know, if you get urgency, it can come from let's use David as a he's a shining example of this, right? You can sit there and just ramp up your level of urgency through purely psychological means. You could take an ice bath. You could do high intensity breathing. Anything that brings your level of alertness up.
Can I ask you this? If you were going to try to improve your ability to get better at something, when would you use that ice bath or the cryotherapy? Would you use it before? Would you use it afterwards? Definitely.
Before or for before the learning. What we're talking about is a two part process. The first part is the learning trigger. The learning trigger is by two things adrenaline, which is also an norepinephrine, same thing and a seeto coaling. And so you need that level of alertness up and you need a CEDO Coaling released at the location in the brain that corresponds to what you're trying to learn. So things like supplements and certain nutrition regimens can assist the process for sure.
There's no question about that. Things like G.P.S. caffeine will bring up the adrenaline and kind of anything to raise that alertness doesn't nicotine as well.
Nicotine has some sort of a neutral pick. Prof. Benefit to not not encouraging people to smoke. But, you know, you can take various forms, particularly gum. I know people take it in gum just for the neutral big benefit of it.
Yeah. I'm not encouraging people to take anything, but there's a very, very famous Nobel Prize winning neuroscientist who I went to his office of ISM in New York and he chewed seven pieces of Nicorette during that half hour meeting. And I was like, what is going on here? And he said, well, first of all, it increases plasticity. And second of all, he has the belief and this is not a clinical study, but he thinks that it can also hold off certain forms of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Didn't Bertrand Russell was in the NewLink, a famous smoker? Like I wouldn't even know think. I think he wouldn't even go on a plane unless there was a smoking section because he couldn't imagine not having his pipe for a certain amount of time.
Well, creative's, you know, when I think when smoking became less in vogue, I think creative's really suffered because it's very clear that so Nicorette is nicotine and the acetylcholine binds to the nicotinic receptor. So when you take nicotine in cigarette, former and Nicorette form, you're actually increasing the release of a CEO with the action of a Seno calling in the brain.
Yeah, I don't smoke cigarettes, but I have. And the only time I have is before shows because I have friends that are comedians that would smoking. Give me one of them things. Let me see what's going on. And I smoked. I was like, whoa, dude, you get high off these things. This is crazy, particularly if you don't smoke cigarettes.
You get this really weird high where your receptors have never seen that level of nicotine before. Right. Like, that's exciting. Yeah. Yeah.
And so it for those moments, you know, you're your seeto coaling is like a spotlight. It brings your vision literally into this more kind of portrait mode. Reconceive more like a narrow window of what's going on. Their behavior, a waste Access's to before a fight. You know, somebody is really ramped up. Their world is not they're not seeing everything. They're probably I've never done the walk, of course, but probably walking out to the octagon.
They're not seeing Albor. The color of the hat of the woman in the corner. You know, they're not relaxed. They're hyped up. But that's a trigger for plasticity because the brain needs some way to cue this plasticity pross to let it self know because it's a self learning organ. Let itself know that something's really different. That's adrenaline. Something's changed. Then there's focus. What's changed? So in the jujitsu example you gave earlier, it's the ability to focus on what the sequence is, what happens when and.
Okay. I did that correctly or I didn't do that correctly. That's duration, path and outcome again. And having a pseudo coaling and noradrenalin up that sets the plasticity trigger. However, that doesn't guarantee that those synapses are going to change. It does not mean that you're necessarily going to learn. Oh, no.
What guarantees that that process will be converted into literally the change in the connections between neurons, sometimes new neurons, but mostly the change in the strength of the connections so that eventually you don't have to dude. Duration, path, outcome you can just be reflexive about. It is states of deep sleep and any state where you're not doing duration, path, outcome. So we know from two recent studies some of this was done by my lab, by other labs as well in humans, which I think is important to distinguish between mouse and human when where we can.
A lot of the changes in these brain structures occurs after learning during deep sleep, in particular, slow wave sleep. But it also occurs during periods of naps and shallow sleep or even just periods where people deliberately decompress, where they're not focusing on any one thing in particular.
So if we were going to kind of operationalize this process, it would be focused intensely, have an intense period of urgency, and then access the deepest rest you can where you're not thinking about anything, where space and time becomes very fluid.
So stress in that case, post exercise or learning session would actually hinder your ability to grow and get better.
Absolutely. And elite performers like elite military elite athletes, I'm sure you're familiar with this. They understand that the ability to toggle back and forth between these Hiler high attentional states and deep rest is not just the key to performing what you can already, what you can already do. It's also the ability to get better over time. You know, I think Gorgons, again, is such a remarkable example because it seems like it's all gas pedal.
But I'm guessing I've never asked him about this, but I'm guessing that he has his ways of recovering so that he can remain in that heavy gas pedal all, you know, significant amount of the day.
Well, I don't know about that. Maybe he's just all gas, but I think he's all gas, Puddleby. I mean, he eats well. I mean, you know, he does sleep, but he prides himself on his ability to just go, let's go, motherfucker, and just force himself to do it.
It's so impressive because, you know, I think most everybody struggles to try and get themselves in action. I mean, we know that actions are the key to neuroplasticity. Yeah, you can do some mental training and that can be powerful. You can do meditation. You can learn to access sleep, but all that stuff.
But ultimately to get better at anything. You got to your reps in whatever that is, neurosurgery or Rut's.
Interesting you say that because that's what he does in his mind. He's getting his reps in and he describes it. He calls it armoring your mind. You have to armor your mind and you know what he eats. He told a story once about being on a plane. Some football player said, you know, how do you you know, how do you keep that dog alive inside you? And he goes, it is like a dog goes, my fucking dog.
I feed my dog. He goes and I feed him again. That motherfucker's always hungry. He goes, he's always hungry. He's never not hungry. Is you gonna be that dog? You got to always be there. So he's always there. And this doesn't mean he's not a pleasant guy. I love the guy. I love hanging out with me. He's he's great to have dinner with. He's fun. He's a good guy to be around.
He's not like an asshole or anything. He's fun. But when it's go time, he's fuckin ready. David. David Goggins. Yeah, all the time. 24/7 regin go wake him up form the more time to run.
Let's go motherfucker. You know, stay hard. I mean, that's that's tough.
Like all day long he is every bit as intense as that public persona, you know, when he came out to the lava is kind of interesting because we just built this great white shark experience and I've gone down to Mexico. We had dealt with these sharks. And my friend Michael Moeller, he's got this whole thing where we could leave the cages and we did all this. And it was it was fun and crazy and probably little stupid, frankly. But we bring it back.
We build this VR stimulus and he and a couple other team guys came in and, you know, so I'm explaining what we're doing and we show the shark thing on the screen. And he goes, oh, like sharks.
And I'm thinking, OK, so we'll give us something else. And then we go through the whole thing and I'm explaining how we wire people in and we record from the brain. I said, All right. So who would like to try the shark's? David, I'll go, like, just he just wanted to be first. And I realize I was like, OK. He wasn't showboating. That's just the way he is. It's just if there's something that creates that sense of agitation, that's a signal for him to go forward.
You know, he does in the summers. I don't. He goes to Montana to fight forest fires. Does he really? Yeah. It doesn't even make any money. Amazing. He just goes there, he's rich and he gets fuckin dropped off in Montana, in the woods camps out there and fights forest fires with a bunch of other savages. And he does it to keep his brain hard. That's fantastic. That's he's the real deal.
He is the real deal. Imagine you've got millions of dollars in the bank and you're like, I'm gonna go fight forest fires all summer. Yeah. Just to stay hard.
Yeah. Maybe I would have done that when I was a teenager to impress girls, but I don't I don't know. He's 40. He's doing it for him. Fuck. Well, that's the thing is, I think that's that that authenticity is a real thing. I mean, there is a kind of a third kind of seek. There is a secret source in this whole mix. And this is kind of what brought me to some my lab. You know, we do work with typical people, but we also do some work with people from David's former community and domestic and foreign special operations who are interested in this process for obvious reasons.
How can you leverage the nervous system to build better, longer lasting warriors? So really interesting question. And you could do that with brain machine interface. You could do that with. You can imagine doing that with drugs or with, you know, supplementation or nutrition, all of that. But that since the nervous system sits at the foundation of any of those, we start to think about this problem. And there's actually another element to it, which is the reward pathways involving dopamine.
So you asked about kids like why they can learn all day long. So their brain is very different, but it still needs some degree of focus and they still need to get their sleep. They still have to obey those two rules of this process. But they engage in something else which is really powerful, which is play a lot of their learning is through playful exchange, especially with the little kids like in kindergarten and nursery school.
And then as they get older, the social dynamics can be kind of harsh, but they can also be really pleasureful and fun. So the molecule dopamine is a really misunderstood molecule. We all make it from a little location in the back of our brain. And people think of it as like reward. Like, I got a bunch of money or I, you know, did a great performance. Dopamine is responsible for that feeling of feeling great. But in addition, dopamine is what's released any time an animal or human thinks it's on the right path.
And that's very subjective. So this is not and I want to be really clear that this is not positive thinking or, you know, this secret or telling yourself you're performing well even when you're not. Right.
Give you a rioter and you break it into a courthouse, but you feel like you're on the right path. You're going to get a release of dopamine heavy, even if you're. Yeah. Even if you're committing a crime and you really probably shouldn't be doing that. Yeah.
Mother Nature built these systems, adrenaline, acetylcholine, dopamine, to be very generic in terms of what can activate on purpose. You know, cocaine will cause a tremendous release of dope mean so. Well, methamphetamine. The problem is it sets a focus on just getting more of that thing right. So dopamine is evoked through play. It's evoked through humor. Right. If you've ever just been working like mad or you see this in, you know, teen guys know this really well.
They know it because they tell me you can be in the worst situation and somebody will crack a joke. And all of a sudden it's like you have energy now that come into being glycogen. That wasn't cause you're ketogenic. It wasn't because you're whatever. That's neural energy. And that neural energy is dopamine.
Is that what happens when you hear a great song and you get pumped up? Is there the same thing? Absolutely.
And the reason dopamine is so powerful in this process of neuroplasticity is that dopamine has the ability to buffer noradrenaline. So that stress that you feel when you're in effort, it's very hard for most people to keep that going. But when you get up. And when? Why say a shot? I mean, internal release of dopamine through humor or through the sense that you're on the right path. Let's take the fight example where it's stressful and you're getting beaten down.
All the sudden you land one or you do something properly in the other guy starts to timber a little bitter, shuffle a little bit.
You gain a chemical advantage and it comes in two forms. One is it triggers marking of the synapses that likely will change later. We rarely forget the events associated with dopamine. For that reason, because they signal, oh, whatever's happening now, that was good. And in addition to that, they start pushing back on the level of a CDO calling excuse me, noradrenalin in the brainstem. And this is crucial because there was a study that came out two years ago, not from my group, that asked why do we quit?
You know, if you set, you know, a hundred or even five pounds on the bar out there, I can't lift it. So no time at that kind of quitting. I'm talking about a long run. Why do I quit if I'm not injured? What actually causes quitting? When did when do we decide that something is futile? And it turns out that for every bit of effort, any bit of ever lifting a glass of water or running up a hill or in a fight, there little bits of us of noradrenaline, adrenaline that are released in the brain and body.
And there's a counter there's a cell type which are called glia, which loosely means golu in Latin. These cells are paying attention to how much nor epinephrine is coming. And if it hits a certain threshold, the brain stops. Voluntary control over the musculature says that's it. I quit. And there are these beautiful experiments where they manipulate the visual environment so that this isn't there certain that this isn't lack of muscle fuel this or liver fuel. This is lack of neural fuel.
Dopamine pushes back that level of noradrenaline and it gives you more gas. It lets you go further. And you see this through teamwork when you feel like you're supported, when you're in cohesion, humor, play, if you know, if you're in serious effort. And it's just things are going terribly maybe. I've never done comedy when you're trying to write a joke and it just frustrate and then suddenly you just kind of laugh at how ridiculous the processes.
There's a kind of loosening or a lightning. And you have more energy. That energy is reductions in epinephrine. And so I don't know how David Gorgons has done it, but everyone does this a little bit differently. But it could be and I'm speculating here, of course. Never done the neurology, but that David has somehow figured out that the leaning in process for him is the dopamine trigger. Like there is a kind of sico thing about the way he talks about it.
Like it's like a it's a little bit masochistic. And for him, maybe it was that way. And it's rooted in his origin story for other people. They find this in purpose like that. You're doing this for your kids or you're doing this for somebody else, you know? I think that the human animal has a capacity to to push has an a capacity focus, has a capacity to learn at all ages.
But these gates on plasticity are set by certain requirements. And, you know, when I look out there and I see all this stuff about, you know, psychology and all of self-help and wellness stuff, I'm a neuroscientist. So I look at the lens of everything through neurochemicals in neuroscience. But it all kind of boils down to a couple basic chemicals and systems or what we call circuits in the brain.
What's a different gene nor adrenaline and nor epinephrine. Yeah.
Great question. So same thing. So adrenaline and and norepinephrine. Excuse me. Adrenaline and epinephrine. Same thing. Same thing. Nor epinephrine, nor adrenaline. Those two things are the same thing. Oh it it was a naming war. So scientists are like they have egos, some more than others. And there was a naming battle. And so if you go to Australia, they call it one thing in England, they called it another and basically was two labs discovered the same thing.
And it was a pissing competition.
Oh, well, how confusing for everybody else. Exactly.
And you can find that over and over and over again in science, because no one ever comes in with a gavel within, like, nomenclature committee and says we're just going to call it this noradrenalin.
So much easier to say it is OK with that nor epinephrine. I've fucked up 100 times.
Well, and it gets worse because like you think about the autonomic nervous system and they're like sympathetic parasympathetic sympathetic. Sounds like sympathy, but it's actually the stress state.
Do you think that you would benefit from data from real world situations in a much more comprehensive way than you would from these virtual situations you're putting people in? Because I know we have a VR thing out here. We have a Oculus and it's pretty cool. There's one of them where you walk on a plank and you really do feel like this plank is over, like it's on the 16th floor of a building and it goes out a window. And you really do feel like you're kind of but you know, you're not right.
It's a there's a difference. Right. You get a little bit of it, but you don't get the real thing. Right. Like like being in the jungle and the leaves part and there's a real tiger in front of you.
The feeling that you would get would probably be you probably wouldn't be able to recreate it with virtual reality. There's some part of your brain that knows this is bullshit. Know.
So we have three three laboratories to explore this. One is the virtual reality and virtual reality can give you what the scientists call presence, the sense that you're really in that environment and that's mainly visually and auditory driven. My colleague Jeremy Beilinson, who's on the I'm in the medical campus, he's on the other campus. He's studied this a lot like what are the requirements for getting people to feel presence? So people come to our lab, they don't think they're underwater with a shark unless they're afraid of great white sharks.
And for that moment where one of these guys is coming in and it opens its jaws for that person, it's every bit as scary as the real experience.
No way. If you look at their art and what we don't know, because we don't put them in the water. I just can't imagine.
Well, here's here's the check close. I agree. I mean, here's the challenge we needed to break. We need to stress people and we needed to do it really well for a lab. And if you look historically, the experiments that came before ours were really lame. It was like. Picture of someone with a knife in their arm. For some people, that's gross. For some people, that's scary, but that's not really fear, right?
Or they'd startle people. But I can jump out of, you know, maybe not to you, but I could jump out in front of a typical person with a teddy bear and they'll get startled. Does it matter? It's teddy bears. That's different. That's not fear. So VR allows us to access states. The more sensory stuff that we can include, the better. There are some now. They include smell. We have it. We're working with augmented reality.
So which is a little bit like the Star Wars thing of projecting a chessboard, that kind of thing.
We find people's pain points, meaning we find the places in which we can trigger their autonomic function. We also run studies outside the lab. So I have a large scale study running right now with David Spiegel, my colleague in psychiatry, where people are equipped with woop bands through monitoring sleep. We're gonna expand this to include some other devices that actually allow us to look at heart rate variability and body cavitation and some other things in some interesting ways, but also body position.
So we're tracking them 24 hours a day. And those people are reporting back to us levels of stress, life events, that kind of thing. So this is outside the laboratory. But we can do this in real world, essentially. And those people were using interventions which are mainly respiration based, so which are looking at specific patterns of breathing that trigger particular states in the brain stem that allow people to either sleep better or buffer their stress and in response to life events better.
So this isn't really breath work as much as it is teaching them specific patterns of breathing that capture these neurons, that switch their brain states.
It really is fascinating that these periods of rest are crucial to learning and developing.
They're absolutely crucial. They are. They're every bit as much a part of the process as the actual trigger event. And. I was the athletes, the people, the high performers that I've encountered are all really good at accessing those states also.
Is it is there a desirable ratio? Right.
So you want to focus as long as you can focus. Well, and then probably a little bit longer, because there's also plasticity of the circuits that control focus. So as you. So going back to your jujitsu example, as you get to the point where you're starting to not be able to do this duration path, outcome stuff which involves motor movements and mental thinking, you're saying you're getting tired. You're literally going into a sort of sleep like state where space and time, duration path outcome becomes hard.
What you can do at that point is to start buffering the nor noradrenalin norepinephrine. Now, I don't know which one to say, but I'll just keep going with whichever's reflexive.
And you can start to buffer that through things like humor, through things like setting the urgency higher. That is not a time to relax and taper out. That's a time to ratchet up the intensity if you want to grab a stronger trigger. So but that period can't last infinitely. The question is how long? Well, we know that you can do more short bouts of that each day than you could ever do. One long, long bout. We know that.
So you can maybe do two or three bout to that a day or if you are doing it several times a week. You basically want to dose it about twice as much as deep stress as you do. The deep focus excuse me, deep sleep as you do the deep focus. So if you're I how long these training regimes go. But part of that training is reflexive for you. I wouldn't count that in the learning process because it's dialed in your nervous system.
But at the point where becomes challenging, a clock sort of starts. And when that period ends, I think at least double that amount of time of deep rest if you want to maximize learning.
There's been a lot of work done on visualization and learning through visualization, and they found that you can get a similar benefit to actual physical training.
Obviously not with the endurance and the strength and all those other things, but in terms of skill learning, you get a similar benefit from an equal time of visualization.
What do you attribute that to? Like how how is visualization? How can you learn things through visualizing. Yeah.
So that's visualizing a setting the brain through these duration path outcome circuitry loops. It's, it's running the script essentially. And it's important to move the musculature. It's important to say the words if you're say, you know, learning a motor skill or learning a movement, a language.
Scuse me, but at some level the brain doesn't really know what's going on in the body. It's the command center except what signals it receives back from the body. And so if the visualization is intense, the brain isn't completely convinced, but it's pretty convinced that you're actually experiencing that thing and rehearsing it. It's a little bit of your own internally driven virtual reality is what you're doing. Right. And so you're create. And so I think mental training is powerful, but there's no replacement for repetition.
So what about you? Obviously, physical training has its limitations in your your body's ability to keep doing the movements. You're going to get tired. Sure. You're going to break down. Would it be more beneficial to get more rest? Or would it be more beneficial to get rest, but also spend a significant amount of time visualizing?
We haven't looked at visualization specifically the one thing that is very close to visualization, which is very powerful based on neuro imaging studies. So legitimate science, I should say, is hypnosis. Hypnosis is a really unique state and this is of mind and body. But we've been hypnotized many times.
Yeah, and I'm very interested in Gnosis because of the work with Spiegel and the incredible success that he's had with pain management, smoking cessation, these kinds of things. Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation, not unlike sleep, but also deep focus. So it's very unlike any other state of mind. You're either usually asleep or you're focused or somewhere in between. You can drifting back and forth in between.
But hypnosis is a deliberate narrowing of context. So the person or the audio script is bringing you into a state of mind that centered around particular types of events. But you're in deep rest, and the idea is that you're taking that plasticity process of focus and urgency and then rest and you're combining them into a single session. And so hypnosis and deep hypnotic states are the are the place where neuroplasticity can be accelerated.
So when you say hypnosis, what kind of sessions are you talking about? And how often? Like, say, if you're an athlete, like, let's let's say maybe you're a basketball player and you want to get better at basketball. You train as much as you possibly can. But there's limitations that you sleep as much as you possibly can. How often would you recommend someone doing some sort of Gnosis session to. Improve their skills. Probably one. Well, depends on how intense their training is for some of the people doing work with in in athletics and in the military community.
You might they have extremely demanding lives. Right. And certainly for the military forces, you know, high risk, high consequence, you know, even when they're not on deployment.
So under those conditions, maybe every day, 30 nose's every day and 30 to 45 minutes as a replacement for some other standard form of nap or meditation. I mean, not necessarily lumped on top of that.
So the standard eight hours sleep and then on top of that, some sort of meditation for like 30 minutes.
Would you know, there's a a process of doing this. We have a script that we use in our lab. I'd be happy to send it to you that takes you into these deep sort of relaxation states, their sort of meditative. Some people can self hypnosis by induce you know, some people call them intentions mount like that because it sounds a little bit too much like a uncomfortable set of yoga classes I've taken.
When they started, though, I don't know really what that's about. And they make you use complete declarative sentences. It feels weird to me. That's just my own bias.
Oh, they're mean. They make you set your intentions.
I mean, I found this, this and they do or say it out loud or. Oh, no, I would not. I would send me out of the room.
Even though I said it like this, I know if they combine the upspeak, then I'd probably intention's rap. Then I'd then I'd file a complaint. But yeah, they even sometimes it's really bad, sometimes they even make you work a pronoun into it. So you'd have to say Choa, you know, anytime.
So once you have a fake pronoun like one of the newer ones, that's that's it.
I don't know. You might. I don't want to go there. You stunned. You stunned me. Probably. Probably. We're all going to be required to at some point.
Maybe not. Maybe not.
Hypnosis is powerful. And I think stage hypnosis has done a great disservice. No disrespect to the stage hypnotist out there to detract from the power of hypnosis as a medical tool and a high performance tool for I.
Yeah, I my own personal experiences that I didn't understand with hypnosis was my first experiences with hypnosis were there was a guy named Frank Santos. It's a famous in the Boston area who's a very famous comedy hypnotist, and he was an actual hypnotist who would hypnotize people, get him to quit smoking things along those lines, but then would do this comedy hypnotism show where he would get people on stage and man like we would watch me and a bunch of other comedians would go and watch it every week because it was crazy.
He would put them under there would definitely be under and they would think they were having sex. They'd think they'd be in a boat, they'd think they'd be in the water. It was weird. It was really weird to watch. And I always thought it was like really weak minded people. My thought was obviously I'm twenty one at the time. I don't know anything. But my thought at the time was, OK, there's certain people that are just they have nine volt brains and you could trick them into doing anything.
And that explains cults and a lot of other shit and televangelists and all sorts of nonsense. It should be like really obviously fake to people, but they fall into it anyway. And so that's what I thought I thought was just really dumb people that he was tricked in.
Well, some people are more easily hypnotized than others, and it's it's actually pretty predictable. There's actually a test that we could do right now that real tight. Yeah. So can do it to me. Yeah. I can use the one that that Speigel taught me, which also you look up at the ceiling and you look and now Trank and I'll close your eyelids. You're not very hypnotizable up. Look up one more time and then close. Yeah.
So probably not as hypnotisable. So for people they're very hypnotizable. So hard.
Yes, it is hypnotizable at least if it's not then I, I'm stamping it and nowadays I just I'll put a Wikipedia entry, it'll be there. OK, but no I don't know, I, I've heard Spigel is susceptible to hypnosis, susceptible to hypnotize hypnosis.
I asked Spigel how you measure this kind of back of the envelope. No curbside consult, as they call it. And people who are more hypnotisable, their eyelids will flutter in an attempt to go down. The reason is that a lot of hypnosis is anchored on the ability to go into these deep, really relaxed states and some people's autonomic nervous system gets locked in a state of more.
Scuse me. Of a more attention and kind of higher levels of alertness or levels of sleepiness. So think about like a seesaw. You can either be really stressed or when you're really stressed, like you're analyzing time or analyzing space differently, duration, path, outcome. What's going to happen? When's it gonna happen? Real emergency. The other state would be sleep. Right. That's the other extreme duration path and outcome are essentially nonexistent. Space and time are fluid.
Whatever the hinge in the middle of that seesaw for some people is very tight. They get locked over here or locked over there. They can't get the energy or they can't distress. Hypnosis involves taking somebody from a state of alertness like you are in Iowa and now and bringing them into a almost sleep like state. Now, for some people, their autonomic nervous system, isn't that willing to do that? It's almost like the hinge on that seesaw is locked.
It doesn't want to budge. And this fluttering of the eyelids is reflective of a peripheral nerve. Believe or not. That's right. That or originates in the brain stem. That's a central part of the autonomic nervous system. The other thing that they'll do, you ever see on the stage hypnosis, where they'll have people look up at the ceiling and then they'll sometimes shine a light in their eyes or they'll like have them look at a light. They're looking at how how we call it layby all but how rigid or lay bile, how willing to move the pupils are because autonomic arousal impacts the pupils of the eyes.
So it's an external read of what's going on in the brain. A lot of people don't know this, but your eyes are not connected to your brain. Your eyes are brain dead, though, aren't they? Are central nervous system and their brain. Your neural retinas that you use for seeing things around you are part of the central nervous system. They are the way that you know when to be alert and to be asleep. And they are two pieces of brain that during development got squeezed out of the skull and placed outside the skull.
Yeah. They're the only two pieces of your brain that are outside your skull, assuming that you don't have some sort of damage.
That is fucking crazy. Those eyes are a part of your brain. Yeah.
And that's why when people tell me, oh, you know, the eyes are the window to the soul. I mean, well, look, I don't know about souls, but they are definitely your brain. So when I look at you and now it's weird cause I'm looking at, you know, we're not not fuels.
Right. But when the hypnotist. I should say, looks at the pupils, they're saying, you know, the pupil size is a direct readout of of that of how loose that hinges.
So when they shine light in someone's eyes and they take it away and they go, that's so weird that you can look in someone's eyes and there's something about what you can kind of tell what kind of a person they are. In some ways, or at least tell how they're thinking. Like, if someone's uncomfortable being around you, you could see it in their eyes. If you tried to write that down, like, what are you seeing? You try to explain it to someone.
Good luck. Good luck writing that down. I don't know what that is like, but I know when someone's full of shit. Right. Like, if someone's lying to me or bullshitting me, I'm not always aware, but I'm aware a lot, you know.
Well, and it's not just their individual eyes, but it's also the way that they focus their eyes. So, you know, the myth of the Cyclops, right. When I had that myth has origins in the fact that the Cyclops was one dimensional anger. And it turns out that when we are experience an increase in autonomic arousal. So let's say we decide we're going to fight. We decide we're going to learn. Or maybe you just we're going to write something important.
Something is important. Our eyes, the pupils change shape. But because our eyes don't really move in our skull, they actually do what's called foliate in a little bit. There's an eye musculature, reflex that gets triggered in. And so you can see that sometimes in people that are getting ready to fight. Their eyes are actually brought inward. That triggers another neural circuit to increase levels of autonomic arousal and starts deploying resources internally, fuel resources, fuel for, you know, bouts of of intense stuff, whatever that intense thing is going to be.
When we're relaxed, like we view a horizon or we're just walking or we're in what's called optic flow and things are flowing past us. We go into panoramic vision, some panoramic vision. You go out of that soda straw view of the world and you start being able to see the corners of the room, the ceiling, the floor and what's and that's a relaxed state. So sometimes we're even subconsciously perceiving how stressed or relaxed somebody is, not by necessarily their pupils, although that might play into it.
It certainly has a role. But whether or not based on your prior kind of intuitive knowledge about that person, whether or not they're like Cyclops or whether or not they're in panoramic vision. Wow.
And this is important because it changes the way we perceive time. If we are in Cyclopes vision, soda, straw view, that high intensity, we tend to do two things. One is we tend to be more in tune with what's going on inside us. We start, you know, the brain does this other thing which called interception. It's like paying attention to what's going on inside us versus outside us. And when we're stressed, time outside of seems to go really slowly.
It's like you're in the security line, the airport, and you need to get your. Flight to very different perception of the person in front of you and what they're doing. Then when you're relaxing, you run out of time. And that's because outside events start to feel slower. This is why after a car crash, people will say, you know, oh, the everything was in slow motion or I've never actually looked at fighters. But I visited the U.S. training center.
Duncan French went out there and talked to him about this shout out to Duncan.
Yeah, he's he's done some before. His graduate thesis is like this beautiful work related to this, although not directly has important implications for this, which is when you're in these high adrenaline states, you pass time differently. And when I hear about fighters, you know, say, like being able to time the fight or they it's almost like they can see things coming in slow motion.
That's because their internal level of arousal is really, really high. But it feels like relaxation. So there's like sleepy not feeling so good. Everything feels like it's going on really fast. I can't deal with life.
Then you ramp up your level of intensity and everything outside you feels like it's going a little slower or maybe your match that like I'm a pretty high intensity guy when I'm in New York and I feel great, at least before the culvert thing. People walking Alicia, I finally feel like the tempo is kind of match between internal and external.
But though is that why like those high functioning people enjoy Manhattan? You know why? Neurotic people like me. Yeah.
Zarzis saves you take a neurotic person. You put them in Manhattan.
They're like, yeah, yeah. They love it.
Yeah. A lot of my friends that are neurotic, they love it there. Yeah. I come from neurotic lineage. I'm constantly trying to get to the other part of the seesaw.
But but I get it, you know, I get out of the subway in New York and I'm like the walking speed that the speed of everything. It just I finally feel like internal to external match.
Does this thing that connects the fluttering of the eyelids to being able to be hypnotized more easily? Does that coincide with a personality variable? Not that I'm aware of.
I'd have to ask David. I don't want to throw something out there that's wrong. I'd have to ask him there. There's a whole set of personality traits and coping traits that relate to hypnotisability. There is a small subset of people that just cannot be hypnotized. You can't know. You can't really force hypnotism on people.
Is it? But is it? They cannot or they are not willing to let themselves be. I've been hypnotized, my friend Vinnie Shoreman. He works with fighters. He's he hypnotized. He calls it mental coaching. But he will. And I was like, I want to know what you're doing. He's been on my podcast before, Mike. Do it to me. We'll see what's up. It was very weird.
Very. You find it beneficial. I think I did. We only did it once, but I was I was kind of stunned by it. I'm like, oh, this is a weird state where you're kind of there, but not there. Like, it's not like you don't know what's going on. You do know what's going on. But you're in this weird sort of cois I relax sleepy thing.
It's a very unusual state now. This match of high focus, deep relaxation is not a brain state that we can. Access very easily without a hypnotist's. I mean, there are other ways to do it. But that state would be super beneficial for for people wanting to learn something because it would relax them much more deeply than it would just or ordinarily everyday life while you're conscious. That's right.
It's it's taken the two pieces of the plasticity puzzle and putting them in the same event. So I don't think it should be the only way to learn new things because there are things you can't do in hypnosis like like role jujitsu. I mean, for instance. But as a tool for accessing faster learning. It's quite powerful. Just like sleep. I mean, I think the work of Matt Walker and Bill DeMent at Stanford and others have just shown, like, if you want to pull someone apart, you want to just make them insane and un unable to do these duration path outcome.
You know, mental operations, you sleep deprived them.
There's a thing that people do, the sort of reductionist, dismissive way of viewing meditation and viewing states of mind. That is really weird to make a smart people do it occasionally. And there's a God that things are very smart. And he was talking about it on Twitter, like mocking meditation. Well, and it was like, man, this is a guy who's probably never really meant.
Well, meditation, you know, I guess grown up in Northern California, a whole mindfulness thing. That's the problem. So it's the second charlatan.
It's the stuff around it often, you know, and I think this is why, like, it's exciting that respiration's last breath work is now making a, you know, a big showing in the world because I think it has tremendous value. I think that it's the stuff around it that causes problems and can get it pushed into.
Like the naming. I mean, like I mean, I have nothing against yoga. I mean, there's a lot of powerful tools in yoga, but it's the Shanda's. And then on the non all the stuff around it makes it sound a little bit like religion. And a lot of people in medical communities and other religious communes back off from that.
Well, there's a problem with yoga that I actually had a conversation with my yoga instructor about because I do Bikram class and they say things in the class, like you're massaging your descending, calling them like, no, you're not definitely not doing that.
Stop saying that. Right. That's not really possible. Right. Not massaging your fucking colon while you're stretching. Right.
Let's let's. Nonsense. Are you are you increasing your flexibility? Yes. Are you strengthening your your your balance in your stability 100 percent. But there's so much nonsense that goes with it that they you know, if you talk to a doctor, they're like, oh, right. You're not doing that. Because I have talked to doctors.
I'm like, okay, before I criticize this, is it even possible that this is going on?
I know, right? And the medical community can be a little bit too one sided as well. You know, I think Stanford's a very progressive place. The fact that Spigel and I have this study looking at respiration and its impact, I think is a a sign that the times are changing. We're not doing this in any kind of mystical way. The fact that people in military special operations athletics are starting to think about the mind and the tools to access the mind is a sign that there's been a tide change.
I had James Nestore on the podcast recently and we talked about his new book, Breath, and just the the ability to control various aspects of your nervous system and even your immune system through breath work. It's very confusing because everybody breathes. Right. So you can bore up. You and I are both breathing right now. We're not doing breathing exercises, but we're breathing. So what is it about breathing exercises that accentuate these these aspects of the autonomic system and sympathetic system like what's going on?
First of all, I think James book is great. Amazing. You know, it sounds like I'm just shamelessly plugging Stanford constantly. But, you know, like most of the studies he was referring to were done by my colleagues of Paul Erlich, Sandor Kohn stuff in my lab.
Mark Krasno, these are these are people these are serious scientists and serious physicians who are saying, look, respiration has an important role in balancing oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body and in the brain. And that has an important impact on states of mind and body. I think that's just no medical professional, presuming there any good could argue that. So take, for instance, Mark Krasno, his lab in a neighboring lab at Stanford discovered that animals and people periodically throughout sleep and throughout the day will do what's called a physiological sigh.
These have been known about since the 30s. But turns out there's a set of neurons in your brain stem and my brain stem that every once in a while on the level of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream gets too high. You do a double inhale and an extended exhale. So it's sort of like to inhale through the nose in extended exhale. Your dog does this right before it goes down from. Yeah.
To offload carbon dioxide. That double inhale. I don't think James talked about this. If he did forgive me, the double inhale maximally inflates the little sacs in the lungs. The violi of the lungs.
And that pulls carbon dioxide out of the bloodstream at a higher level so that you offload it more in the exhale. Now, these physiologic. Size are the fastest way that I'm aware of. From work in our lab and with Spiegel to take that seesaw from two high level of stress to a little bit calmer, Dublin Hill exhale. So this isn't breath work.
This is a set of neurons that every kid and every adult has. They use periodically, but we can also consciously control through the diaphragm. So that's one way to bring things more calm. I think, you know, James talked about it in his book, but those breath work of the sort where, you know, kind of tuomo type breathing of doing all three inhales and really offloading Laverick carbon dioxide that causes the release of noradrenaline or epinephrine.
And noradrenalin nor epinephrine are Mother Nature's way of buffering us against infection and disease. Everyone thinks stress kills your immune system. It's the opposite. Stress activates your immune system. And that makes sense. If we suddenly had to forage or go out and find water, we need two or three days and we didn't know what you know, you can't afford to get sick. This is why if you work, work, work, work, work, and then you finally rest, you're more likely to get sick as you go into that more parasympathetic relaxed because your immune system also gets shut off.
Is that why people in prison are getting.
19 or not really getting sick as so many of them that are asymptomatic?
Could be. I didn't realize they were asymptomatic or if you're very stressed for a very long time. Eventually, the immune system can't deploy these killer cells that it needs to deploy.
So there's a certain amount of stress that's actually beneficial to you and your immune system. Right.
But I get very when I start doing eye roles and I get a little frustrated when people like adrenal burnout. Look, your adrenals were designed to take you through two lifetimes if you need to.
The idea that you're adrenals are just gonna shrivel up into you know, somebody told me that their doctor told them that Coffey's given them adrenal burnout. It's nonsense.
I want to see a match, teach neuroanatomy. Show me adrenal burnout. Show me an adrenals that won't secrete adrenaline anymore.
So what why are they saying that? Like, where'd that come from? Sounds good. Sounds better than the parasympathetic sympathetic. Yeah. Yeah. This like this doctor was telling my friend that drinking coffee's burning out is adrenals. Yeah.
I mean, it may be putting them into a state of heightened activation and they can't take it down a notch in the evening. They don't know how to relax. They don't know how to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system without doing things like eating or something, which is one way to do it. But and I think as a society, we are struggling to manage this seesaw. I mean, we know that being in a chronic state of stress is bad physically.
You don't want to do that, but you also don't want to do it for your mind. I mean, anytime you're stressed, you're also able to be recruited better by other people's stress. We know that.
Recruited by other people's stress. Yeah.
So my lab is also looked at like how stress spreads between people, how the autonomic nervous systems communicate. And we know that the best way to get what's called emotional contagion is to get people into a heightened state of alertness, I'm guessing. And I have no knowledge of comedy whatsoever. But I'm guessing that the comedian that's less funny that comes out before the main person. I'm guessing they're trying to get them, like, ramped up. You can create a more emotional contagion.
You have to take them from the floor all the way up to the ceiling, kind of get them upper level. Is that right? Or my way off base with.
Well, it's interesting that you put it that way. It's actually a problem that comedians that have sensitive egos will bring less funny comedians with them on the road. So they look better. And it's like amongst a leak comics, it's actually very frowned upon because it's you're setting yourself up to look like your hero. You rescue the audience from some terrible comedian that you had opened for you. If you you could judge the ego or the health of the ego of the headliner by what kind of comedians they consistently take with them on the road.
I mean, you know, everybody has bad sets occasionally. But a lot of times these weak minded guys will bring these terrible comedians on the road with them. Interesting. Yeah. But the reason is because they don't want to be outshined.
That's what it is. Makes sense. Yeah.
Well, that's anchored in a neurobiological phenomenon. Forgive me. This is all I think about it called dopamine reward prediction error.
So it's it's very simple, really. Basically says that the the degree to which something feels really good where you experience it is great. Could be a great meal or comedy set from the perspective of the the audience, of course, is going to depend on how much dopamine you got before. So if I tell you we're gonna go to a restaurant and it is amazing and I got the most amazing steaks, amazing steaks, and we get there, there's a higher probability that steak isn't going to taste great to you.
Really? Absolutely. Reward prediction.
Error means what if it's really great? It has to exceed the dopamine that you had and Rackham's bullshit people.
That's what you're saying. You basically bullshit, right? Well, there's something that does happen. There's a contagion that does happen when people are funny, where it's contagious and everyone around you starts laughing more because there's more people around you laughing. Like, if I'm in a room and there's a funny comedian onstage and there's a bunch of people to my left and right that are laughing really hard. I'm more likely to. Wow. Right. There's something weird that goes on, and one of the things that I've always said about standup is I think it's kind of a mass hypnosis.
It's not just funny, you know, because if it was funny, there's these comics that are doing these Zoome comedy shows. And I I encourage them to all stop doing it immediately. Good. Fucking terrible. There's even great comics look fuckin terrible because you're lacking that critical element of an audience. Standup comic is one of the rare art forms you really can't do on your own. You have to do it in front of people. And I think what's happening is when it's not just when a person's on stage, it's really good.
It's not just that they're funny, not just their timing is excellent. It's not just they have these are really, really insightful ways of looking at things that make you laugh. It's also that you're around a bunch of other people that are experiencing it together. And when that person's good, you are allowing them to think for you. There's some weird like if I'm watching a guy onstage, he's really good or girl onstage is really good.
When someone's killing, I'm allowing that person to think for me.
I'm like sitting there just like God, take me for a ride, let's go. And then they're making you laugh. But it's you're also aware that you're in it with these other people. So you have this enhanced state because all these other people around you and you're all experiencing it together.
This is I don't know much about comedy at all, so forgive me, but comedy to me is very interesting because it's a and I don't know how the comedy scripts are written, but I find them incredibly fascinating because it seems like almost all jokes are a break from the space time rule that the brain expects.
Close contact card magicians do this very well, too. It's like you're expecting something to happen. And I think he's going there. So it's sort of duration path outcome with this. And then all the sudden you get hit with something that's surprising. Yes, this is probably not funny. Maybe it is true or not. But there's a Steve Martin thing from way back when where he he business comedy for dogs or something. He brings out dogs and and it and it's a perfect example of just breaking all the rules.
The dogs are telling him what to do. And at first it's not funny. And then he keeps going with it. And what you realize is he's on when he used the word hypnotize incorrectly here, but he's bringing you into a reality where the dogs are setting the rules. And it's hilarious because the brain, when it sees surprise, it could be a card that, you know, you pick and then I tear it up and then you suddenly produce it from my shoe or something like that.
The extreme magician type stuff or really funny joke. It's like the brain wants to go one place and when something unexpected happens, dopamine is released. We know this.
It's like a surge of dopamine. And all of a sudden it's like I'm in a state where then you can take me further up the staircase. The one thing we know about dopamine was why it's so powerful is not just that it can buffer these feelings of effort, but that it can take you into new ways of thinking about a problem.
I mean, this is why a lot of this isn't work that I'm involved in, but is why a lot of the excitement about the therapeutic use of MDMA and things that increase dopamine are windows into modes of processing information that are very different. Now, on the dark side of that. If you think about cocaine or methamphetamine, you've got dopamine coming in artificially and it tends to create a problem that tends to make people super focused on everything outside them and in pursuit of more stuff.
That's what happens with really high dopamine. But dopamine, appropriately dosed, allows us to explore new realities of how, you know, what led to that joke, a new variation. Anyway, I'm sort of like passing comedy. I don't know anything about it. But when I watch comedy, I'm always looking for the element of surprise. And sometimes I think you're laying out crumbs for me. And then you'll hit me with something I had no idea.
And that's twice as fun. And you get that pop. That's the part. That's dopamine.
When when someone does cocaine, do they wear out their dopamine receptors?
So in a show in short, yes, the dopamine receptors are very prone to saturation. Remember, the the they're like parking spots and you can fill those up very quickly. And there's actually changes that happen at the genetic level in cells when there's too much dopamine in the system for too long. Like with dopamine addiction or crack cocaine addiction, the cells actually start modifying the way they work so that they become better and better at gobbling up dopamine. The whole system becomes a dopamine pursuit system.
And know in thinking about the brain for these kind of, you know, very top contour conceptual levels, we can think of addiction as just a narrowing of the things that bring you pleasure. And so what you want is to obviously not use cocaine. What you want is to access the dopamine system through whatever process appeals to you, provided that it doesn't deplete that dopamine system like you can. You can maximize this to the point where things don't work anymore.
And there is a kind of little weird techie cult thing happening. The bear that called dopamine fasting, which has no basis in physiology where these kids are.
Like, literally, they're not looking at each other in the eye because, like, it's too much dopamine in their lives. Yeah. I swear it's a real thing. I get asked about this a lot. Oh, my God. And it it if anything, it would have the opposite effect that they're seeking.
I wonder why there's bombs just shitting in the street up there. Everyone's losing their mind. I have to be a little defensive.
Northern California, it has a lot of problems. But when I go down to Venice, which I love and I love L.A. also, I'm not one of these southern California hating Northern California. There's pretty serious homeless problem here, too. It's growing. Yeah. Yeah. But San Francisco homelessness is it? It's on another level. I mean, I don't go to the city any. You're the king.
I don't go to the same standards either as the Kings or the homeless people. Not a tidal wave. Gavin Newsom, you did it. You've motherfucker. You started it.
It's I've you know, I've. I live in the East Bay side, on the Oakland side. We have that problem there. But Oakland's always had a lot of problems. Well, it's one of the side effects of a really tolerant, progressive community, for whatever reason. You're you're tolerant to drug addicts making tent compounds, you know?
And it's it's very unfortunate because it ruins everything else. And so I get the idea behind it. I get it. But in practice, it is not effective. It's not good for them. It's not good for you. Certainly not good for property values. Is not good for safety. It's just not it's not good for sanity or it's not good for sanitation. It's not good for anything. I mean, fucking downtown L.A., they're funded typhoid. They're they're bringing back middle aged or mid.
What is it? Not middle aged. What's the word I'm looking for? I've do this middle aged mediæval. I was made even up. I fucked it up. Yeah. Medieval medieval diseases. They're bringing out diseases that haven't been around for fucking thousands of years. We're. I don't know why that can't be solved.
I do still understand that problem. The homeless problem to me is so it's so odd that they just let them camp out. Like, I went to Venice the other day for dinner and we're driving by this house and there's a beautiful house to my left that's probably worth like five million dollars. And in front of it, there's 13 tents.
I'm like, this is crazy. Yeah.
The last the last time I was down here was in March, right before COGAT hit and or around the time. Who knows when it hit. But there's a block on Venice Boulevard leading down to that Erwan market that was maybe one block. And I drove in the other night and it extends, you know, seven blocks.
And they don't do shit about it. And I don't know what they're going to do. Every time you go into an underpass, you're entering a homeless encampment. Now, they've even the one out over here on Winnetka. They put a porta potty there and a handwashing station like we give up here shitting his bucket.
It's crazy. Like, wow, this is just I mean, I don't know, maybe there's bigger fish to fry. Maybe it's more important things right now with covered.
I can't think of anything more important than making sure that citizens have health care and shelter. And the route to do that is not my expertise. I don't have any great ideas about that, but I just. The homeless problem to me is very bothersome.
Our neighborhoods in in Berkeley, you go down towards the four street history, used to be a kind of artist's district. Get down here. There's skateboard park. They call it the Erin Brockovich part because had all this like sewage and toxic waste seeping up and kids were getting infections and stuff. So down here, there, now everyone wants to go there. Right. But the bus after bus after tent after tent, it's an entire city now. People living in the avenue's back there, you know, and I don't know what they're gonna do about it.
And there doesn't seem to be any solution. I mean, there's nothing on the table. No one's doing anything. They're just letting it grow. It's so weird. It's so weird. I mean, I don't want to be the person engineers the solution. I've got shit to do. Aren't you fuckers there? Mayors and congressmen. That's your district. Go do something. Yeah. I mean, I'm I'm not a very political person, but I'm I'm very disappointed at well, a lot of things, but I see a lot of great things happening in the world.
But I also see a almost total failure even in this on the part of the scientific community to communicate accurately what's going on right now. There's so much confusion. And, you know, I don't want to get into the Kovik thing because it's not my expertise. But the fact of the matter is that science has also you know, there are a lot of people don't believe in science, but science has also failed at some level to get out there and explain to people what they need to know.
Who are the people that don't believe in science?
Well, there are the anti Vax or flat earth people. Yeah, schizophrenic's.
And that's for the most part. And I think the ease with which, you know, a celebrity can just decide that vaccinations work a certain way or don't work is their way. And it spreads so quickly. And people love that idea that, you know, I try and look at it through the lens of neuroscience, say, what is it about the mind where people can't seem to connect to logical ideas when it's inconvenient for them, but they can string together all these random dots into a theory that this was all caused by, you know, five G or something?
That makes no sense at all. So it tells me that, yes, people are challenged. But in addition to that, I do think that the scientific committee has a responsibility. You know what?
Let's not go after Foushee specifically, but why isn't there a team of scientists out there saying as a team, we figured out this, that and the other thing there, Jamie, was just bringing this up earlier before the show that someone was being criticized because they said we should have more experts to draw upon other than Foushee. And this person who was interviewed explained what they're saying is on CNN this morning.
It's just they were just kept asking, what's your problem? Fouche? And you said, well, there's other ones. You talk to somebody at Stanford. He named someone specifically. I remember the name, but just talk to other people. And she's like, we have other epidemiologists coming on the program or whatever, but you just look there. Why not try this person, this person, this person? I just kept grilling him on Foushee. Why?
Why do you keep asking about Foushee was a problem. Falchi. Very strange.
Right. That's not what the issue is. The issue is divergent opinions are important, particularly when it comes to medicine and science. There's different perspectives and also equally educated experts who vary on what they think the approach should be. And I think regarding the this thing, this is a covert thing is completely unique, right? Because it is a novel coronavirus. So we really don't know. We don't know. And you go back and listen to what the World Health Organization was saying in January versus what Foushee was saying in March versus what they're saying today, in July.
It's very different. So clearly, there's no one expert who has a fuckin finger right on the Paulson. Like, I got this. This is what we need to do. Listen to Fouche. You listen to the Joan over there.
Whoever the fuck it is, that's not the case. We need a panel of experts. We've done the space shuttle exploded. We had a panel of experts. Now, Richard Feynman was the one who was kind of the frontrunner and he's the most eloquent. And he knew how to speak to the general public. And so he was the one that got all the attention for figuring out it was a, you know, a washer ring that heated up or got cold.
I forget what it was and figured that out fine. I figure that out.
In addition to doing so many other amazing and chastened chicks playing the bongos, what he did then would have gotten him fired today very quickly. Well, yes. Well, my dad's a physicist, though, according to my dad.
It was it was bongo drumming naked on the roof of Caltech. Oh, yeah. So he took it to a whole nother level. Also a guy who was very into float tanks. Yeah. For him, he really was into the float tank thing.
But I think like anybody who tries to get to know him, I've never tried. Now we need to get you in. What? But my prediction my hypothesis is that it's dramatically changing that sensation piece of the equation so that your perception can now move and kind of float. No pun intended that you're it makes it hard to do this duration path, outcome, kind of rigid thinking in there, because you my understanding is that the the salinity, the water and the temperature of the water makes it so that you kind of don't notice the boundary between yourself and the water.
It comes one environ. Yes. So Feynman actually talked about this as a way to access space time, relationships of the mind that he anchored to physics principles. And so he was a big proponent of the float tank. I think also because he was a little afraid to try psychedelics.
Want to talk to you about the full tank. But I don't want to steer away right away from science. Shouldn't the responsibility of science? Because I don't think the responsibility is in science. I think the problem is and this is a new problem. The newfound ability to communicate online and reach massive amounts of people without any expertise whatsoever. That's what this podcast is. I mean, I've said a bunch of stupid shit on here that's not accurate. And you can get away with it.
You know, at least I'm ethical in it, that if I do make mistakes, I will correct them. And I'll try to be as honest as I can about what I know or what I don't know. But when someone is slightly schizophrenic or delusional and they're more prone to believing in conspiracies because conspiracies, they activate some weird spot in your brain and maybe we could talk about that. I don't know what that spot is, but there's there's some weird reward mechanism that comes from discovering things that are hidden that people don't want you to find out that everybody else doesn't know about.
You could be the fucking Paul Revere of 5G and you could be the guy running around. You know, 5G is coming. 5G is coming. You know, there's something about that that really dumb people really gravitate towards and some really smart people with some mental ticks, some things that are off. And it's it's a real problem because it's a giant distraction. I don't think the responsibility lies in science because science is supposed to be about data analyzing these things.
Coming up with cold, hard facts that you could that approvable right. Things you could show this is repeatable. This is this is what the situation is. And this is how we know. A spokesperson for science would be wonderful. But there are people like that. There's Neil deGrasse Tyson does a fantastic job about the cosmos. Yeah. I mean, I love his work.
But, you know, there's this there was this culture in the 80s and 90s around, you know, and I grew up sort of in this because my dasa of physics, you know, is physics. You know, I spent some time around a lot of physicists. The Cosmo's an astrology. That gained immense popularity, you. It's very exciting and very interesting and mostly irrelevant to what we're dealing with right now in 2020.
Right now it's about biology, virology, epidemiology. And there has not been a voice for that. Besides Falchi. And I think he's doing the best he can with what he's got. I do. I have to believe that. But I think a panel of experts who could appeal to different types of people through different types of mediums would assist in at least letting people know what the process is. You know, we've sort of said there are people out there who don't think cohered exists.
You've got people that are just waiting for a vaccine, are going to leave their house until there's a vaccine up. You know, they're afraid of vaccines. There needs to be some structure of communication about what scientists are doing because there's incredible work happening in laboratories at Stanford all over the world trying to figure out the solution to this problem.
And. At the same time, people are very stressed. You know, for the person that doesn't have a W-2 or regular 10 99 income, this period of time is immensely stressful. And the more stressful something, the more stressed a human or any animal gets, the easier it is to recruit them into some sort of delusional thinking. Yes. You know, it's you know, psychosis is defined as ascribing meaning to something for which there is none. You know, if I suddenly tell you that the brick in that corner is sending me messages about what I should say next.
That's breaking with our space time, understanding what what's allowed here. People are doing that in subtle kind of incremental ways. Some of them might be diabolical and evil. But what we know is that the more stressed people are, the better people are able to recruit them into ideas where they can connect dots that otherwise might not be connected. It has everything to do with the way that the brain you don't computes information. So I'm not saying a panel of experts would necessarily buffer us or inoculate us against those kind of forces.
But I do think that there was a time in this country, at least when I was growing, I'm 44 years old, where at least there was some faith that the figures that you saw on a screen or that we're talking to you, we're putting in a best faith effort. I mean, it might have been a lot of shady stuff going on behind the scenes, but I think that has completely fallen away. And so now it's all, as you said very aptly, it's all about following individuals who can be most convincing in the moment.
It's about capturing people in these highly dopaminergic, anxious states where you can start leading them down a thought path. And pretty soon there's no notion of science pre your time, a flatter earth. And it's and it's scary. And there's other countries aren't doing this. China is not doing this in China. They are they are working, chipping away in Europe. They are working and chipping away in a way that is in keeping with the reality that is been broadly presented to them here.
Reality is getting very distorted.
There's also a problem with and it's not because of Foushee, but Foushee represents to a lot of people a point of ideological loyalty. Right. You believe Foushee because you think Trump's a moron, you know, or.
I believe Fouche because I think he's a scientist who's got the best set of tools to look at the problem. Right. But Junon, I'm saying so anything that opposes his perspective gets diminished, even if it's a legitimate scientist that has an altered perspective, you know? Or someone who instead wishes that we focus the public on how to strengthen the immune system and the techniques for strengthening the immune system, which we are aware of. These are real things. And you don't hear a peep out of this, which is to me, very frustrating and to its I'm very disappointed.
I guess that's what I was saying poorly before. And you said much more clearly now, which is, you know, I'm disappointed that he's the only person out there and the only voice, not because I don't believe what he's saying is valid, but because I think there are other things that are important. First of all, the stress problem has not been addressed. You know that I work in my laboratory. But one, the reasons I'm getting out there and trying to talk to people about stress in these systems and trying to provide tools is because people are stressed.
And for that person, whether or not they're wearing a mask and washing their hand 25 times a day and staying at home or going out stress, there are tools for that. And we have an obligation to teach people those things. And I we have their tools for enhancing immune system and we need to teach people those things.
Yeah, I wish that was a big part of the government, whether it's local government or national government. The focus of not just telling people to stay inside and be scared and wash your hands and wear a mask, do all those things, but also exercise, drink more water, take vitamins.
You know, teach people meditation techniques. Let's give people some tools that can help them get the proper sleep they need, because I think these are all immense factors.
I agree. I mean, the foundation of our well-being is through the very basic kind of almost boring stuff. Hydrate, sleep, gratitude, social connection, nutrition, exercise. You know, you start hearing about this thing, you kind of go, well, it's not exciting. It's not the magic pill. But I think of that all that as kind of the tide that comes in that's required to bring the boat out to sea. You know, I think people think about the thing that's going to trampling them up to the highest position.
You know, that's going to suddenly turn them into a high performer, you know. And I have been doing some work with a former team guy named Pat Dossett and Blake Mycoskie, who started Toms shoes. So just full disclosure, because I have a position on the company board, I want to do full disclosure, not work in my lab. And they've got this you know, this company, this program that's really about building foundational tools for people like for every person that it's great.
And I also feel like our government should be sending these messages out there because we're really lacking that. I think the instability of the situation that we see today has a lot. The psychological response to all this has a lot to do with the fact that. We didn't hit, covered, prepared. We didn't hit this situation prepared. The world was, you know, that the United States is badly obese. It's a real serious medical problem. And even touching the psychology, just medical problem, badly obese and stressed.
I'm going to send you must send this to you, Jamie, so you could put this up on the screen, because Brigitte Fennessy sent me this today. And it's fucking appropriate and hilarious. And it's about what we're going through right now in terms of obesity and stress and all these poor people who also give me a certain animal to find a cot. Damn, I got a lot of text messages. I can only imagine.
Oh, I can't even imagine. Like, what the fuck is this? Sorry. Former surgeon. Ow, ow, ow, ow. God damn, I have 150 new text messages. You know. As to right now, Jamie. Well, a dead air here, kids. Jamie, bam, bam. Well, I would say my physician friends told me that one of the major threats to, you know, one of the major risk factors is obesity.
Yeah, this is. Were you looking at a lady that weighs about 400 pounds in a scooter yelling at a fit woman, put a mask on? You're putting my health at risk and she's got a McDonald's bag in her hand.
That's a lot of what's going on. I was hoping that what this was going to do was it was gonna be a wakeup call for people and we're going to see obese people really take their health seriously and go well while I'm alive. Like, what are the primary factors that lead to really bad results with covered? Well, according to the doctors, it treated patients in Manhattan. The number one factor was obesity. There was no one. And so there's older people that, you know, did way better than young people who were obese.
So it's not just an age related thing. It's an obesity related thing. But you people, as long as they're OK, they can they could stay inside and wear a mask. They're fucking healthy. They'll just eat ice cream and watch TV and hope someone comes up with a solution that the daddy government comes along and fixes the problem. But it should be a wakeup call. Should a health related wakeup call for people?
It should. I mean, I think that we saw in the 80s and 90s, you know, fast food and cheap calories became so prominent, you know, and we see the effects of that now. Right. Yeah, that's that's that's here. Now. The problem is now, I think the other problem that's happened over the last 10 years and we're starting to see this emerge in much the same way that we've seen obesity emerge is the phone. And I love the phone.
Em born raised in Silicon Valley. I use the phone. I love the phone. But it is a complicated device because we are bringing a ton of our attention to it. Social media is very complicated as wonderful aspects, but there are ways in which it's converting and an engaging neuroplasticity in the young brain the way it's, you know, engaging our attention. Think about how much attention people will place on that little phone, but they can't read two pages of a book.
Right. That worries me. And not because I'm, you know, university professor and I need everybody, you know, doing equations or learning about neuroscience. Not at all. I just worry about the neuroplasticity of learning to be defocused and scatterbrained. There is a time to put the brain into states of space time, fluidity, to come up with new comedy routines or scientific ideas. You know, you could take a walk. You can run. You can put the float tanks there.
A bunch of different ways to do this. But. The phone is starting to gobble up all that dopamine and all that space, time, duration, path, outcome stuff. And we are wasting our cognition and we're wasting the most precious gift we were given by Mother Nature. And evolution is a brain that can teach itself things and that can predict things and that can look at the past, can learn from elders and gain wisdom. I mean, all that stuff is what we were put here to do.
And yeah, know, my dad said, you know, he thinks I asked him if he thinks there are other galaxies, you know, because he's more versed in the physics and the cosmos than I am. And he said, I don't know. But if there was, they they probably extinguished themselves with social media because it's like mental chewing gum. People just kind of throwing away their cognition and the dopamine thing. It's not that they're getting so much dopamine from using the phone.
Doesn't feel like a big win. It's that they're spending it out like spending, you know, five dollar bills all day long. Pretty soon you're broke. Yes, Austin. And so I worry about our use of these devices and what it's doing to our neurology. But I also know they're extremely important.
Alan Nalin, live Innervates, who is on the podcast, recently had a book called Unnatural. And it's one of the things that he he talked about in the book was that what we're doing is essentially the verse. It's weird. And he talked about us on Twitter and that's how I engage with him.
We were we're taking most of our information and we're making it processed information by getting things off of Twitter, by getting things off of social media. You're getting this very where weird interaction with people. It's boiled down to this very strange 280 character version. That's not equivalent to an actual conversation with a human being or reading a book or watching a documentary or any of those things. Is this weird thing. That's most of the information that you're receiving. And if you look at human beings that are on processed food diets, you see the body behaves very poorly and it just reacts very poorly.
And it's it's terrible. It's just not good for it's unhealthy.
Well, equally unhealthy is processed information.
And this is his argument. And that's a great argument. It's a great idea.
It's a I think we are in an adolescent stage of this technological intervention. And this this will lead to whatever neuro link is going to be and whatever the source successor to neuro link is going to be. I think things are going to get way weirder, I think. But there's potential for a beneficial aspect to it. And I think one of the potentially beneficial aspects are that it seems like all of technology is moving us through, at least in this virtual sense of using phones and computers where the bout the boundaries between people and information are becoming smaller and smaller.
The problem is the boundaries between physical people are becoming greater. There's more separation, particularly with Kovik, right? There's more physical separation between people, but the boundaries between being able to access the thoughts of people is smaller. Right. So it's you're you're the beneficial aspects of like what we've talked about, what with your me, even your immune system and your your health and just overall mental wellbeing, community love, friendship, all those things. You need to be right there.
You need to be right there with you, hug each other. All the stuff that's that's that's crucial.
And hardwired into us. And with co vid, that's first of all, everyone's scary because everyone could give you the bug, could kill you or kill your grandma. And then on top of that, you're engaging in this processed form of communication all day long. And most of it is toxic. Right. I mean, if you're engaging with people on social media, then I mean, I talked about this multiple times in the show. There's people I follow that don't even know.
I'm following it because I just have a bookmark because they're just so toxic. I go and just I want to know what they're doing. I'll just go to the mike, look at his mother fucker. He's on Twitter 12 hours a day, is yelling at people, arguing constantly. And I just imagine that their mind is a fucking chaos just off of a rack, just potholes and burning buildings. Their head is just filled with shit.
But it's effective. You know, in a terrible way. It's affected. It's like in the engineers, you know, talk about signal versus noise. And the brain is essentially an engineered machine. It looks for where signal is high and above the noise.
And so there really is a payoff nowadays, a short term deleterious payoff, but payoff nonetheless for being able to recruit people's attention, recruit their autonomic nervous system, get those and them into those modes of having to click and follow in scroll.
Now, I agree that I think social media, like, for instance, I teach some science on social media. I've mentioned great make great connections through social media, but we have. Be very judicious in our use of it. And that's hard for most people. And what I think's going to happen is that we're going to talk about signal noise. I think what's going to happen is we're going to start selecting for people that are very good at controlling their attention, are very good at separating themselves from technology as well as using technology.
And so for people, they're just rabidly consuming technology and information and thinking this is the way to live a good life or to get ahead. They're actually just falling into the noise and the people that are. I think it's one of the reasons why a select set of individuals have been so effective at controlling the landscape, the political landscape, the lots of landscapes. Let's just say that. And I think that we need to think about whether or not we're in the noise or whether or not we're, you know, paying attention when these big peaks of signal.
And what's that? We're getting recruited. We're getting, you know, kind of groomed by these things. And it is scary. And at the same time, I agree. I think that eventually we will break through this. I do, because that's what the human animal is really good at.
Yeah, I think we're in the technological dark ages. That's why I think we do very well.
They weren't just some weird thing where there's a lot of people going, this is not good kids, this is not good. But most people like, fuck. Yeah.
And just in just wading into the fray because it feels kind of good. Yeah, well, especially when you don't have real meaning or purpose in your life because you're unemployed and you're stuck at home because a Cauvin and you're scared. Well, that's that's a way that people occupy their mind and engage. And you see a big uptick, big uptick in that. Well, these people that I'm paying attention to, the toxicity of their inner their exchanges, it's just well, this is kind of scary.
And I, I, I saw hesitant to just kind of flip to another research day. But there was this guy in the 60s, this guy, Robert Heath, who didn't need patients, who had epilepsy. He just got permission to record from the human brain. And so he put electrodes into their brains and he let them stimulate any area of the brain that they wanted. This was like this. He just did it and. They'd stimulate one area and they feel can't drink or they stimulate another area, they feel sexual arousal, they stimulate another and they start laughing.
The number one area that people like to stimulate created a sense of mild frustration and anger, which is totally perplexing on the face of it. You say like, why would people like that more than sexual arousal or feeling drunk or happy or giddy or whatever? It turns out that this dopamine system we're talking about earlier is tethered to that. And it very likely explains not just the human animal, but all animals ability to lean into challenge in order to acquire more resources to fight and overcome them.
You know, if you add a bunch of whole species revelant, just backed away from any frustration and challenge, they'll be very problematic. And so right now, I see us in the state of extreme anger and frustration or mild anger and frustration. And some people are going to drill through this and they're going to make things work. You know, they're going to gorgons it, you know, to make it the verb, you know, but. And a lot of people are just going to feed that frustration, anger.
But in a loop, it's just a closed loop where they're just clicking and scrolling and clicking and strong scrolling and they're not building anything out of that. So this circuit is really important. It's actually part of the circuit that underlies the state that we would call courage in. My labs worked on it. And this relates to some of the stuff done with military groups.
But it those states of courage were designed to accomplish specific. Goals. You know, find food. Find mates and then in the world of military, you know, conquer this or learn that. And, you know, learn a new skill. Right now, the phone in many ways is hijacking some of that circuitry at a low level. And it's it's never the subtle stuff is the stuff that scares me. It's you know, obviously I'm very disturbed when I see rioting and looting.
But when I see a technology that is kind gnawing away at our neurology little by little, and then we can't go, oh, my goodness, we can't cope with life and what's being thrown at us. I think that's when I think we really need to look at what that that natural circuitry was built for and start building new technologies to take us out of this mess.
Yeah, that's what I'm hoping. The future of these, whether it's neural link or some other sort of immersive technology that allows people to communicate in a very different way. You know, when Illana saying you're going to be able to talk without using words, when I'm a sense what I'm really hoping was sounds really crazy, but I think. What could help is if we could read thoughts and clear intentions re really understand intentions vs. interpretation of intentions. Like someone can say something sarcastically and you could read it the wrong way and you can get upset at them.
If you read it in text, it's even more easy to misinterpret what someone saying or to purposely, deceptively frame what they're trying to say. Absolute. If you can just read someone's mind, we're going to we're going to have a much better understanding of each other and the rewards versus the positives versus negatives of holding onto these really toxic patterns that people are swimming in right now with social media.
I agree. And I do think that neuroplasticity, in addition to brain machine interface, you know, so it probably will involve machines that we put on our faces or whatever. But neuroplasticity is the way out of this, right? I mean, that's what the brain can do. It can learn new contingencies, new ways of relating. That's why I'm so adamant about understanding this process and really feeling so much importance on, you know, especially with kids, because it's also passive, like their brains are just passively shaped by experience.
So that can be a little scary to people. It's also beautiful because it means that you set one proper intention or one rule that they should learn and adopt, and that can have a long lasting effect.
You know, the ability to distress themselves, self, soothe the ability to, you know, work through a hard tangle of a problem interpersonally or academically, whatever problem that can be done. It's just that we I do think, especially in this country, we've learned to back away from that internal sense of agitation. And, you know, going back to what we're talking about earlier, that agitation is the first requirement for getting plasticity. There's no way around that.
And we have this kind of obsession with Floh states, which I think are great. And on all this stuff, and we think it's that's the portal to it. But I think I'm certain actually that it's not the portal. The portal to changing the brain is these high urgency, high attentional states, followed by rest and just keep going, toggling back and forth and back and forth.
That is what's really important, right? That you you cannot strive for a life of total relaxation because you're not going to get shit done. There's nothing there. It's not the active state of the human mind. It doesn't it doesn't thrive under those conditions. But we're also concerned about stress and we're so concerned about the pressures of weather. You know, you're in some sort of a competitive environment or a job that you're involved in that requires an immense amount of your focus and your attention.
We're all striving for that state where you like a monk in a lotus position, not doing anything.
Now, that seems terrible to me because it's divorced from everything we know about competition winning in the brain. Yeah, there's a cool set of experiments that I think you might especially appreciate given your background in martial arts, which is called the tube test, where they take two rats or two mice and put them in a tube, simulates male mice, but also female mice. And they start fighting for position in that to one mouse, pushes the other mouse out or rat.
Inevitably, that one is the winner, the one they get pushed out the loser. We know that statistically, if you put those mice back into another tube test, even with another mouse, the winner has a higher probability of winning and the loser has a higher probability of losing.
Even if you push the winner from behind. So you take a loser and you stop to push it from behind with a stick and it wins. Even if it doesn't win on its own effort, it becomes a winner. Now, this is totally weird. And for about two decades, this really perplexed neuroscientists. And this was taught in psychology classes, but not neuroscience classes. So in the last five years, neuroscientists come in. We have a lot of new tools now that let us monitor the brain and look at the brain in real time as rodents or people are doing these kinds of things.
And so they figured out that there is a specific area, the frontal cortex, that becomes more active in the winter and less active in the loser. So much so that if you shut down that brain area, the winner suddenly becomes a loser. You increase activity in the loser. It becomes the winner. So you ask yourself, what in the world is this brain activity or brain area doing? It turns out it's taking the feeling of stress and arousal, which both of them are experiencing.
It's a battle and it converts it to more steps of forward movement per unit time. It's just forward movement. And so one animal is feeling stressed and is pausing more or is backing up the other animals feeling the same level of stress and is moving forward just physically. And it's wild because you can even take an arena, make it really cold, which mice don't like, put a warm heat lamp in the corner and the animal, that one at the tube test gets the sweet spot every single time.
And so what this says is that, you know, those are mice where humans. My labs. Looking at this, we had a paper a few years ago identifying the area in the brain that actually leads to forward movement and rewards it with a dopamine reward. This is a paper we published in Nature, the area. The brain is interesting only because it maps exactly to that brain area that Robert Heath found. People like to stimulate frustration and anger.
So frustration and anger were designed to get us to move forward adaptively. Now, I don't know how this plays out in the octagon where you're seeing somebody get beat up and, you know, but and then they're all of a sudden they're winning and it's switching back and forth. But, you know, my dream experiment would be to record from the brains of those guys while in real time. We don't have the tech to do this right now, but someday we will.
And I bet you that every forward step or the perception that you have an advantage over the other guy or gal. Leads to a dopamine increase, lowers that norepinephrine and allows them to keep moving forward, they get energy. They it's you know, it's not gassing at the level of, you know, can't breathe. They're gassing at the level of conditioning. It's something's happening neurally. So as a society right now, we are stressed and this is not the time to back off going to the lotus position and people come at me sometimes.
I do think we need tools to buffer stress. I want to be clear about that. And I want people stressed all the time, are seeking stress. But goodness, we were given and then we were endowed with this amazing neurology that allows us to do this. We did it in famine. We did this with foreign invaders. We did this with animals and storms, and we did this. And here we are. We've got severe challenges. But forward movement balanced by rest is the solution that's worked for us for tens of thousands of years.
And it's what's going to work now. And it it all comes back to just a few select brain areas because this is a primitive situation we're in. It's not a sophisticated situation.
Yeah, that's a that's a uncomfortable reality for a lot of people that the struggle is good. Right. That there's there's benefits to it, particularly if you're looking for growth and also if you're looking for stimulation and a sense of meaning.
I think people, for whatever reason, are hard wired to try to figure things out, try to get better at things and to have a purpose. And a lot of times the purpose that they feel other than family and loved ones and friends and things along those lines, there's a purpose of success in their chosen field, success in whatever endeavor, even if it's a hobby, you know, whatever the thing is that they obsess upon. That's what gives people this sense of meaning of.
And I think that's why there's buildings. That's why there's cities. That's why we figured out the wheel. There's something about people that need a problem to solve. And then once they've solved that problem, they need a new problem. Right. And that's what the nervous system was fundamentally designed to do that and make sure our offspring make it to the next.
So when you see, like riots and looting and you see people pushing against the building and let us in.
Did you look at it from that perspective like, well, there's some sort of a battle going on here and there's a problem like they're trying to win, just like the mouse in that tube. When you see those protesters in Portland or try to get in the courthouse, like, what are they doing to try to get in there because it's locked and they they have this idea in their head that that's gonna be the conquest. But you saw like what, Chaz?
Remember that the the zone in Seattle, that was six blocks. They let him have it. And then what happened? They fucked it up.
It fell apart, fell apart, fell apart because there was there was no end goal then once they have it. Like, what you gonna do to sustain it now? People started leaving. Murders took place. They started beating people up. They were filming things. They were behaving like the police. It was crazy. They'd put boundaries up. They essentially turned it into a far worse version of the United States.
But in their mind, they thought, if we just take this over, if this is this right now is not ours, but if we take it there's a policing police precinct there.
If we storm the precinct and occupy it, then we're going to win.
Yeah, we're in.
But then once they're in, they're like, now what? Well, there's no resistance. Once there is no resistance. They didn't they didn't have a fight. There was no battle.
It was very primitive. And actually, I hadn't thought about it. There's a perfect example of real life example that to test these, you know. Yes. Two opposing forces pushing back and forth. And we know that the more they, you know, we call autonomic arousable, the more stress you get, the more your mental and visual landscape becomes that soda straw view where all you can think about is the adversary. Yes. You know, now in a fight, an octagon or a boxing ring or jujitsu match, that's great, because that's everyone's agreed to that.
But it that's not designed to be played out in society over these with micro wins. It's not even clear that their wins because what's really changed, I think that working through legislation, working through Top-Down legislation, identifying specific things to go after, I mean, that was the beauty of the civil rights movement, you know, in the 1960s, you know, Brown versus the Board of Education. Like what? What a beautiful thing to create openness in schools, you know, where anyone could attend going after specific legislation that's far and away a different way of looking at a problem and solving a problem.
And, you know, I don't have a lot to say about that. The situation in terms of the process, I saw a lot of looting where I live in Oakland and the first housing on a commercial district drove a car through the window, looted the place three times, a pharmacy three times, and he's right up next to me.
So, you know, I think that but that's that seems to me to be just opportunists taking advantage of the chaos.
It was clear it was not the protesters, as many things going on simultaneously into like to kind of conflate them all together seems disingenuous.
Well, there's a problem in science. We have a phrase you're either a lumper or a splitter. The lumpers like to kind of lump. Together and push forward a grand theory. Today, I am using some generalizations and I won't get too far down the weeds, but I'll stand behind anything I've said because it has, you know, detailed background to support it. But the splitters, as annoying as they can be when they come to meetings. No, but this but that you need a certain number of splitters.
This is why I think like a panel of people is good. You get a lumper, a lumper and a splitter. And then pretty soon the splitter is annoying everybody because you just want to go for coffee or you want to just break and the lumpers are done. But the supplier says, no, we're actually not thinking about this problem in a nuanced way. And this is where I think maybe it's not specific scientific information, but a scientific training and ability to think about a problem and be comfortable knowing you may not solve it today or ever, but you're going to leave into this thing over and over and over.
That's the kind of training that a scientific thinking will give somebody you don't know not to want to be a scientist to do it. I don't know if anyone wants to be a scientist nowadays. I certainly hope so, but. We need to have more nuance. We need balance between the lumpers and splitters. And as you point out before, social media is all about lumping and high emotional states.
And that's the worst combination.
Yeah, I think. And that what you just said is perfect. I mean, that that's really what we're dealing with today, is this inability to recognize nuance and to accept nuance and to be rigid and committed to your position and your position is something you defeat. Do you defend because your position essentially is you? Right. This is one of the problems that people have with ideas that they marry their mind to these ideas. And if these ideas proved to be even if objectively they know that this idea has holes in it, they will still defend that idea tooth and claw because that idea represents their ego or represents them as a as an individual.
And that that's unhealthy for everybody. But it's also it's part of being a human being the absolute instinct to do such a thing.
Absolutely. There's a paper that came out recently in the journal Neuron, excellent journal that was all about the dopamine system being attached to beliefs. So beliefs and thoughts we think of as kind of these vague, you know, like what are our thoughts? You know, I have thoughts all the time, but I can also deliberately have a thought. Beliefs are almost like actions in the sense that they can recruit dopamine release. What this paper showed is that people just believing, thinking more and more about what they already believe leads to these dopamine increases.
It literally reinforces the belief they have from the inside. That presents a certain particular type of problem for trying to convince people how to change your opinion. It means I have to take your mind or the person's mind into a completely different state in order to change it. It's you know, maybe it's hypnosis, maybe it's proper landing of media ideas. I don't know what that form would take, but changing people's minds, provided that they are older than 25, has to be done by the person themselves.
I can't change your mind unless you're a child, a child. You can impact them.
But once you're an adult, only you can direct your own plasticity. No one can do it for you. So we are becoming more, more polarized. And because of the nature of the A.I. bots that drive social media, the information that we're that you're getting and then I'm getting. Well, hopefully that's more aligned than, you know, some of the ideas that I'm getting and other people are getting where we fundamentally disagree because social media and media in general is designed to bring us into these high amplitude arouse states.
But we're getting different information. We're not reading the same newspaper. And so our beliefs are actually diverging and being reinforced by dopamine. So we are creating a bigger and bigger conceptual divide through the hijack of these neural mechanisms.
I wonder if that's one of the really attractive things about these protests is is is internal recognition somewhere, even if it's subconsciously that we don't connect with people enough and that there's there's no greater connection than a group of fifty thousand people that are supporting an individual cause and working towards a column? Yeah, we know this.
If you you know, you really want to build team, you know, build a sense of community. You know, you can have them all watch a concert, bring them into a peak state, or you can all have them fight the same fight.
I wonder if there's like a a a yearning for that because of the separation of I mean, think about the coinciding factors, right. You have social media which separates us. You have covered which separates us. And then you have these protests which unites us. And it must be like incredibly satisfying for people that have been locked up and are constantly on social media to be in this mass move. And you'll probably alter your own perceptions and beliefs to fit in better with this movement.
So people that would never be violent may be violent, people that would never loot might loot, people that would never use graffiti or start smashing the windows. A Starbucks might be so inclined because of the mob mentality to join right on in just to be accepted and be a part of this group and just to feel something, just to be excited by this this gigantic move. And when it's so undeniable that the cause is worthy, like the George Floyd murder.
When you see that and you go, well, fuck this, man, this is wrong is injustice. And then everybody's on the street and there's chanting together you like. It's it's perfect. Yeah. It's a perfect combination of things.
It is the perfect combination. And it is a combination. You know, up until now I've been talking about it's like just frustration or just winning. But you're talking about group cohesion. Yeah. You're talking about fighting a fight. You're talking about being locked up before. So all these forces, you know, pulling on the same neurochemical forces, there are many neurochemical ingredients there. A lot of ways to access them. Right. And I look at the what's happening now and I sort of go on sort of like the inverse of Burning Man.
I've never been to Burning Man. I'm the one person the Bay Area hasn't been a burning man. But, you know, going out to the desert ever. No money. Everyone's going to get along exactly as can be a lot of sex and like everyone's going to get along and everything's great, you know, no rules, basically. Right. Except be kind. And now we're seeing the exact inverse of that. Yeah. And so there needs to.
Something that can satisfy this yearning for connection and that can make us feel like we're building. And, you know, back in last century's history, I mean, you know, the build after the war was a, you know, everyone community building. There were bylaw problems with the way that was played out, of course, was not done equally among race, racial groups, etc. but a common goal, a common battle, a common fight is very good at recruiting these systems in the brain.
And I don't know how that's going to come about. I keep hoping I have this 14 year old niece and I just keep hoping that, like, her generation is looking at all this and they're just like, we're going to work this out.
Well, I think what's going to happen with places like Seattle and Portland, unfortunately, I sense a mass exodus of rational people from the area. I think they're probably going to go, okay. People have lost your marbles. We're going to get the fuck out of here. And we got to take our tax dollars with us and leave you with your Marxist mayor. And congratulations. You fucked the whole city up. And then there needs to be some sort of a recognition of the mistakes and then a correction.
And that's probably what's going to happen. You're probably going to see more and more of this, more and more chaos. And then like, you know, what's going on today in Portland. And now you've got Homeland Security troops, which I mean, I don't even know what branch of the military they are part of. No idea. So weird. They're all wearing cammo and they don't have badges on. They just they just show up in minivans and pull people in the cars.
Never is like, what the fuck is this like? What is going on here? Well, they'll probably at correction because of that as well. It's most likely that what we're experiencing is just a lot of chaos and then lessons will be learned. And unfortunately, for a lot of people, victims will be made. You know, they're going to make victims out of a lot of people and a lot of people going to lose their businesses and their livelihoods and even their lives along the way.
Well, when we saw this in the 60s, you know, the civil rights movement was incredible movement. But we also had, like the whole hippie movement, there was like a lot of the same parallels were happening in the last 20 years. I was watching this, you know, because I grew up in the Bay Area. People think Silicon Valley is very conservative. But I remember a time growing up. Well, you know, at least in my house, you know, like that the way that my dad talked about hippies was like, you know, every doesn't lead anywhere.
It's bad for everything. You know, the counterculture movement. The mom was the opposite. So I think neither was correct. But, you know, they had crazy stuff going on like this. There was this guy, Larry Geller, that was you know, he thought he could bend spoons with his mind, a spoon better. That was the joke, Miles. Don't be a spoon bender. You know, like, whatever you do, don't be a spoon better because it's like stage attached to facts and things that are designed to move human progress forward.
That's really important at the same time. You had the whole counterculture thing going crazy. And I feel like in the last 20 years we've seen some spoon benders. We've seen the eye, the explosion of access to all things you know, and people being so hungry to have everything that everyone else has. And there's been a gradual decline, at least in some sectors, for, you know, an appreciation for hard work ethic. That's why I think, David, you know, I have a deep appreciation this for the work with, you know, people in the military, but people who, you know, that whole American thing that I grew up with of you get up, you pick a vocation, you grind away at it.
Whether or not it's, you know, garbage purt, garbage man or scientist doesn't matter. You're just building your same circuits are underlying all that. And I think right now people are feeling like they don't know which way is forward. Right. Like we talk about moving forward and pushing that stream. But I think a lot of you just don't know which way is forward. So whatever thrown in their face, they go that direction.
Knebel they think they have a sense of what's forward and they're moving in that direction. And a lot of them are very young, too. And so they're their version of the world is not, again, to use the word not particularly nuanced, which is, you know, they're they're imitating their atmosphere. They are a part of this, what they think is a very valid and worthy movement. And they're pushing forward. And it's very attractive again.
It's it's it's one of those things that I think ultimately we're going to get something out of this and then ultimately we'll probably be good.
I think racially, to be fantastic, I think is his big explosion of tension is going to be awesome when it all settles down, because we're gonna realize how ridiculous it is to look at people and base how you treat them or how you feel about them based on their appearance because of what part of the world their ancestors came from. It's just as stupid as looking at someone because of their hair color or their eye color. I mean, imagine a world where all blue eyed people were devils.
We hate them all. It's crazy, fucking stupid. It did things that are completely outside of your control. Should have absolutely nothing to do with how a person values you as a human being.
And I think most people haven't experienced this, but there's a there's something out there. Maybe it's on the Internet. But my colleague Jeremy Beilinson built this VR experience called a walk of a thousand walk of a thousand cuts or 10000 cuts.
So you put the VR on, you see yourself a reflection of you and then you they turn a dial or you turn a dial. And then your skin, if you're. Asian becomes black, African-American, and then you walk down a city street and it's very interesting, I've done this experience and people look at you out of the corner of their eye and you're like, oh, I've never experienced that before.
The virtual people, the virtual people looking you out of the corner. I go to wake them up. He beat up version.
There isn't that option in there. And there's a different VR experience where you can beat people up. There is. There is. He should call that. I love Chicago to love. Take it.
But you don't feel anything. I have a VR boxing game and it's weird because when they hit you like you get a flash and it gives you it gets you a little nervous, like you really do feel like you're sparring. But when you hit them, there's no satisfaction.
Well, you're used to the real thing. There's nothing like that real impact. Right? There's there's no replacement for it for everything. The real spy getting hit or even hitting a bag.
I mean, it's it would be nice. I mean, you don't really have to hit a person.
But if you if you hit the thing, like if they can figure out a way to make a robot, you know, that was interacting with the VR program, that understood where the footsteps of the VR is. So it's in the correct position. So as you hit it, that's where it should be. And you could actually push off of it and it would back up a little and then you could hit it. So you could it's come home.
But I bet it's coming. And I should be clear, like I'm not a total Technofile. I think we're using the tech that we have now because it's the best we've got. And I hope that in five years with all these amazing engineers I'm surrounded by and elsewhere, that we won't be using that tech. We'll be doing something completely different.
So I'm sorry to interrupt you. So the the when you are in this different race and you're walking down the street, you get this this feeling. Is there overt racism? Yeah.
So you go to a job interview and you stand there next to somebody else. You're actually seated down. And then the interviewer comes in and says, hello, nice to meet you. And they put out their hand and shake the person's hand next to you, white guy. And then you put out your hand and they don't shake it. They go, Nice to meet you. They do the nod. They make eye contact. And then you go into a different set of experiences.
It takes you through about ten minutes of these experiences. And what's interesting about it is none of them is so overwhelming that you're like, oh, my God, this is what it must be like. But what's interesting is I did that experience three years ago. Every time I walk past a black person on the street, I now I it triggers a frame of mind. I'm thinking about how I react. I'm thinking about it. Whereas before I wasn't I've never considered myself a racist person.
I don't now. But it fundamentally changed the way that I experience interactions with people on the street. And that was a 10 minute or so or 20 minute or so VR experience. And that's just the tip of the iceberg about what's possible. I think we really what it tells me is that because of how stringently gated plasticity is, plus the ease of vaulted by these chemicals, we need to bring those chemicals into play if we want people to change the way they feel.
I don't think watching a protest on the street can do it. I think the George Floyd thing absolutely did it. That was a very dramatic, terrible example. It went. It was visceral to watch that.
And I think that's why it had the effect it did. It underscores essentially everything we've been saying about neurochemicals being the gates to changing the brain. Without that, it's not going to happen.
We're talking about this VR program highlights one of the reasons why don't like cities like Manhattan. I'd like them to visit, but I don't want to live there because you don't say hi to everybody, right? You can't.
Yeah. You're just an opt to say hi. How are you? Hey, what's up? Hi, lady.
It's the human SSAFA. It's like a I was in New York as a human safari, but it's like that again. Signal-to-noise like a person to have a cat on their head. Naked and on fire before you like. Oh, wow.
Maybe it's just that it's very impersonal. There's a there's a sort of weird thing that happens when you get around large numbers of people where they don't become they're not as valuable because they're you're overwhelmed by them. There's so many of them. Whereas if you're in a small town, you know of 20000 people and you walk down a street, there's a guy walking towards you, you look at each other, go, hey, man, I do. And I like that, too.
I always liked what I liked about New York is I felt like it's you add Italians and Irish and black people. White people. Puerto Rican people. Yes. And so there's a. You also experienced them. Yeah. Right. You see that. And you know, the Bay Area. I love the Bay Area, but one of the problems I have with the Bay Area is it's become you know, people are hidden away a lot more.
There isn't that in a lot in our culture as well. It's a car culture.
And every place has its its challenges. But I think New York is such a beautiful experiment in putting a bunch of people with different genetic and ethnic groups together, putting them together and saying, you know, you may not all get along, but at least you will hear those those accents. You'll get your first start in five different languages.
And I think there's a real beauty to it.
I Wonder Woman that's going to change because of Kofod, because obviously people are terrified of being jammed into a subway now with strangers. And that was one of the cool things about New York, is that you did all walks of life, poor and rich, would interact with each other on the street in L.A. There's virtually none of that. And there's this. Weird sort of separation between people and where they live. And then also the car thing. Car cultures.
You mean it just you're in your own little environment. You set up your own little world and that's your car and you're driving around and these other people you interact with. That's a little segment of their world that they're taking with them on the four or five. And because of that, you don't have the same sort of melting pot aspect that you do get in New York, New York, really uniquely. I mean, I grew up in Boston.
It doesn't have it. You know, Boston has like there's public transport. There's the tea. You know, you can ride the train, shit like that. But sat nearly as prevalent as the subway system in New York City or the walking in New York City. Everybody's walking. Yeah.
And you have to be right up next to it. Yeah. You know, I think martial arts has this a bit as well. I grew up skateboarding. That was my sport. And what I loved about is, first of all, it's like all ages sort of weird sport. In that way. You get a little kid hanging out with grown men and Tony draws on all this. Yeah, it is. And so you get this big mixing pot, but also ethnically so diverse.
It wasn't always like that. But you've got, you know, Vietnamese, Mexican, black, you know, white kids, everything. Right. Hanging out together. Whoever can get their tail down, drop in and go, yeah, that's great. Science is making a an effort. And I think now, especially after the recent events in the world, to try and bring in more diversity. And it's a desperate need because you want that diversity of opinion, you want that diversity of outlook, et cetera.
We're fortunate to have a African-American colleague in our department was actually a small department, and there's an immense need for that. I think science is going to be more diverse in the years to come. That's it. It's a focused effort now that the National Institutes of Health is going to put money and energy into this, thankfully, but there can always be more done. But I think one thing about kids and neuroplasticity, like whenever I'm not skateboarding anymore, it wasn't very good at it anyway.
But I did enjoy it and I loved the community around that. I think more of that, please, for the next generation, more things like that. I think martial arts is great. You go into Jarman's like, doesn't matter really where you're from. Right? Especially for your spas. If you're going to get in and, you know, start boxing rounds, you have to be able to take it, you know.
Yeah. And it's not about background. It's about what you can do. Yeah.
That is really important. I mean, it's it's just more of those things where people can interact with all kinds of different people gives you a more balanced perspective. It gives you it gives you a broader perspective. Right. You get to see. And what brings you back to the way the brain functions, the more variables that you have in terms of when you see a person, you know, you you know, so many different examples of human beings that you have more to draw upon.
And I hope that one of the things that comes out of this George Floyd thing and then the Black Lives Matter protests is people have more open minded approach towards just human beings in general.
And I think these things like they happen in these big explosive move, these big explosive events then shifts. And I think we're absolutely experiencing a like a global consciousness shift. And it's very chaotic and scary in some ways for a lot of people right now. But I think ultimately we need to come out of this the better. And if you look at like, say, Steven Pinker's work, where he covers, you know, the history of human beings and interactions, we are in the best time ever.
And it's hard to say that because, you know, there's still poverty, there's still violence, there's still crime, and it's still racism and sexism and rape and all sorts of awful shit. But it's way less and way better than it was just a hundred years ago or 200 years ago. And it seems to constantly be moving in that trend. And I'm hoping that that's going to be what comes out of this. This is going to be another event that as the dust settles and as the lessons are learned and as we kind of get our feedback on the ground and we understand what went wrong, what happened, particularly because of this this corona virus situation that we're in where, you know, everything's in chaos, everything's thrown up in the air.
Thirty something percent of people can't pay their rent right now. It's nuts, too. Unemployment rates through the roof. It's crazy.
It's terrible. Terrible. And every time I you know, I think being able to take someone else's frame of mind a reference, just as an exercise, it's so hard when we become kind of autistic in our way of just feeling like our experience is the one experience and just being able to try and think about what it must be like over the last three months to not have any income, you know, to see your gym or your business open, then shut again, at least in California.
It's pulling on all the levers that create internal tension and outward physical explosion. And we. Yeah, I. I am optimistic in terms of the long arc of this, but right now we are in the pressure point.
Yeah. It's rough to bring it back to your work. One of the things that you talked about was eyesight and regaining.
I side or dealing with people that have weakening eyesight. My eyesight is going to shit, man. Do you get a regular edition? No, I'm just old 52. And just the know macular degeneration. Like, I can't I mean, I can read my phone. I can read all these text messages that are coming in 14 new ones since I put my phone down. But what I do know for sure is my vision is not as good as it was 10 years ago and certainly not as good as it was 20 years ago.
What can be done?
Okay, so there is what can be done now and where we're headed. But I suspect you won't know what can be done now. Fix my eyes. Okay. So we do have a clinical trial in my lab right now through my affiliation with ophthalmology, where people put on VR goggles very separate from the fear inducing thing. It's actually a very pleasant experience and we use a particular pattern of stimulation that activates the cells in the eye that are most vulnerable and create vision loss.
It stimulates those in a way that reinforces their connections with the brain. That's the logic. So every cell in your eye has a different function. But some of them, their job is to transmit visual information to the rest of the brain. They're called ganglion cells.
We know what patterns of activity make them healthy and what reinforce regeneration. Back in 2016, my lab published a paper showing that that particular pattern of stimulation combined with a particular pattern of gene therapy. So this is one injection into the eye of a gene that triggers growth of these cells in mice. That allowed regeneration of neurons that were damaged. And it actually reversed slightly, but it reversed blindness completely.
Blind mice were able to see again. So that was in mice. We then took that, built a human clinical trial using just the VR part. However, some people in this trial are receiving injections. It's about once every month, very painless injection into what we call the vitreous of the eye. They shoot it right in the eyeball. Yeah, just little insulin syringe go. Right. And you look that way. Boom. The high skilled off them all just can do this without any pain or anything.
I know it sounds terrible, but it's it's very straightforward to inject something called so C.N. T.F. Syllabary, nootropic factor. And the combination of this growth factor, plus the visual stimulation, we believe is going to protect cells that would normally be lost from getting lost. So offset vision loss and potentially restore vision. Now, the results of this trial aren't done, but we are recruiting people for this trial. Jamie. You're in. Right.
As a good as. And if they prisoners. OK. And if the prisoners are really bad people, but they can't see that good.
The injection part provided it's done by a really by a skilled opthamologist is isn't it. It's a cinch. You've been through way worse this morning on your way to work. Trust me. So it's it's nothing. The other thing is that there was a paper published just recently, a couple weeks ago, not from my lab, but from a group over at University College London looking at the effects of red light on mitochondria in a different cell type, which are the photoreceptors of the eye.
So you've got the cells that connect to the brain called the ganglion cells and got the photoreceptors, which take all this photon information, turn it into this incredible thing we call vision, which itself is a whole galaxy of information, but is amazing. And those cells did generate over time the photoreceptors. They don't do very well, in part because as we age, the mitochondrial function gets disrupted. This study was preliminary. It wasn't very many subjects. I think it was only 20 subjects.
Maybe it was 12. But getting red light therapy, just viewing a very bright flashes of red light of a particular wavelengths on people going out there blasting their eyes, improved vision on vision tests almost immediately. And that's a very non-invasive approach. And I'd be happy for one of those red light therapy machines of one of those shields.
Yeah, it's probably little different than this. If you're interested in doing this, let me know and we can, you know, potentially go into this.
What would be the difference being that red light therapy and the other kind of red light therapy? Because I really liked that juv thing. I'm not I'm not exactly sure what it does. It's supposed to, like, regenerate college and and do a bunch of different things that helps you.
But it feels good. Yeah. It feels good to stand in front of it. And the bright you know, one of the things is, remember, we're saying that the eyes are actually a piece of brain. The brain needs to know when to be awake and when to be asleep. One of the best ways to wake up your brain is to view bright light. And, you know, there are all these people that are fanatic about blue light out there.
Viewing bright light in the morning from sunlight is the most is the best thing. Like in Southern California, go outside two to 10 minutes a game, bright light, and then you want to avoid light from like 11:00 p.m. to four a.m. actually has been shown to suppress melatonin. It can disrupt sleep, has a lot of problems you don't want really won't be looking at any bright light in middle of the night. A lot of people get obsessed with blue light being bad.
One bright light. You're in the day and you don't want any bright light at night. Really too much of it. And people come after me. They like the blue blockers, you know, I call it like the blue block. And this does have been coming after me recently because I'm out there saying life is like, what about it?
Look, the blue blockers will help filter some light. It'll make things less. Right. It's hard to see with sunglasses in your house. So be my guest and wear them. But really, what you want to do is dim the lights in the evening. Deeper sleep. Melatonin suppression isn't won't be a problem. That'll. That's all good. Get bright light. First thing in the morning when you wake up. And then the bright red light is probably having a dual effect.
It's probably increasing mitochondria in the photoreceptors if the study is right. I do believe this study has it. It looks really good to me. And the person who did it has been in the game a long time. So I trust him. And in addition, that's going to wake up your system and get the balance of these hormones like you want. Court is all high in the morning. And melatonin coming up about 16 hours later before sleep. It's going to put all that into the right rhythm.
So I say go ahead and do the red light thing. But if you want to pursue the red light flashes where the V.R. and maybe even the S.A.M. injection, we should talk about that.
See, A.F. inject mean the bacteria, they squirt it right in your eyeball. That's the growth factor. Yeah, but I'm scared of that.
Well well, the good news is the good news is that the V.R., we do have a condition in the study where it's just V.R.. So it's a daily you're essentially your neurons like to be active and these cells that connect to the brain are the most above all others, the most active neurons and cells in your entire.
Do you know of anybody who's done this? Well, you have the injections in the eyes. Well, Yo-Yo, many people now in the study have had the injections.
We had one of the benefits of the well. So I want to be careful. I can't talk about the results of a clinical trial. I can't say they're promising.
And this is in just wink wink, if you think I should do it. Wink if you can fix my eyes. Well, I think if you if you qualify for the study, I definitely think you should do it. OK.
But I can't reveal that the results of the study because I actually don't know in the name of good science, I'm blinded to the conditions, no pun bright. Like I just don't know. But we have we have subjects or patients that are as young as 17, as old as 80. And the beauty of this is that it's if you decide not to get the injection is completely non-invasive. And how many injections do you have to have? I think I once a month for a period of about six months.
So what? I have to go to the Bay Area once a month. No, so. So there is another version of this where there's a slow release polymer capsule. That's it. That's placed into the eye.
Just kind of says this. That sounds even worse. Just inject me when it over. Well, someday we will have drops that will get through the vitreous and down their cancer. Like like we work on glaucoma. My lab people for glaucoma take a drops. Right pressure.
But getting things in to, you know, remember its brain. And so there's a reason why you have this tough skull.
You're not gonna be able to think that way. Okay. The brain thing is really fucking my head up.
The fact that your eyeballs are you're exposed to pieces of the brain that is so nuts to piece of the brain and so visual repair is soon going to go the way of two other strategies. And I think we're going to see this in humans in the next couple years, meaning two years, because I hate that ten years thing. We've been here in the ten years thing forever. One is the work of someone you've had on here before, David Sinclair.
Love that, dude. It's great. He's terrific guy, both for sake of his work on combating aging and also just really have to tip my hat to him because he was really first man. And in terms of doing public facing science education through podcasts and things like. Yes. And, you know, I'm I'm starting to do that and others are starting to do it. And he deserves credit for that. It puts scientists in a vulnerable place.
And I think he's doing it with a lot of integrity.
He's also got a fun personality. So great guy. Yeah. Yeah. So for him to get the point across.
So David's not typically known for doing vision research, but he paired up with another guy, slab guy. He was young. He at Harvard Children's Hospital is someone I know very well.
We worked together on a number of things. And they took advantage of what it called these Yamanaka factors. Yamanaka won the Nobel Prize Prize for finding these four factors that could essentially allow a cell to turn into anything, any other cell type kind of create stimulus in these cells, make them pluripotent stem cells. The problem was that tends to induce cancers in these cells. So David's lab has combined an anti cancer gene. I think these these work are still not published, but he's talked about them.
So I feel comfortable doing this suppresses cancer while turning these cells young again. And at least in mice, they see some very encouraging results. So that would be a sort of one injection kind of thing where you go in once you get the injection, then never again.
If I did an injection once a month, how long we're talking, how many months do have to do it for?
So the study would probably run for about six months or the embedded capsule, the S.A.M. capsule combined with the V.R.. Now you have to put those VR goggles on for 20 minutes a day and watch. That's easy. You can listen to music, do whatever you want. It's a very passive thing that triggers activity.
These cells, the activity is key because we know that neurons, you know, you hear fire together, wire together and all this other stuff. But the fact that there's neurons that are quiet, it even if you cast an arm, the neurons that support moving of that arm very quickly start to turn off and eventually they can die. So you keeping neurons active and alive and healthy involves keeping them literally active electrically. And so that's what this the VR component is about.
So there's the Sinclair kind of turning back the clock. Stuff. And then colleagues of mine at Stanford are doing incredible work with neural the prostheses, a little robotic retinas, as well as stem cells that are inject into the eye that settle down into your eye and give you the cells that you've lost. And we're not quite there with the human trials yet, but there is a group, the retinal repair initiative. I'm part of this thing. It has a kind of funny name, but it's called the Retinal Dream Team, which is a bunch of people brought together to to cure blindness, to solve blindness in a particular these disease called neurofibromatosis.
So there are dozens of labs working extremely hard on this problem. This is one place where I can say there's been tremendous progress in the last five years. There are clinical trials now, for instance, the one in my lab and in two or three years, you're going to start seeing people who would normally go blind. You're going to halt that and you're going to see people who are completely blind. I think eventually those people will see again. Wow.
Yeah, I have. It's amazing. It's amazing. And, you know, blind people, that mental real the mental real estate, but like the visual real estate in the brain gets taken over by other functions. I mean, there's this guy, Dan Massina. He's a skateboarder, is completely blind. It's amazing guy.
And keyboard's blind with a cane, rides up to rides up to curves and handrails, all always onto him, kick flips out. This kind of slide, Rigaud. Yeah. And and I've talked to him a bunch of times because he was having some issues with his sleep, because at one of the issues that blind people have is because light is controlling when to be alert, when to be asleep. He was having some issues with this. So he contacted me.
We're also in touch because we're trying to he's trying to build skate parks for blind kids.
So there it is right there. Oh, yeah. Check out Dan. Wow, that's insane. Such a beast.
I mean, must be will be would be afraid to do this without. Yeah. That's crazy. Yeah. And what's what's so great about Dan. Is he also you know, he's got is nuts.
He's in graduate school. He's I mean he is such a.
He's tapping things so he knows where they are. But how does he know the scale of the ramp or the pitch of the ramp.
He has an internal representation of it.
Wow. Yeah. Wow. That's Bongo's.
He's from which you could see how cool it is. There is. Yeah. Yeah.
He's a he teaches blind kids like what's possible based on his talk about kov it and being indoors.
Blut blind people spent a lot of time with blind people cause of the visual restoration stuff. And there are people like Dan who are out there trying to get blind people to come out of their rooms to get into society.
If you have a dog, you're better off, right? Because the dog, you outsource your vision to the dog. There are now glasses that blind people can wear and walk down the street and it communicates with somebody in a like a dispatcher who says, oh, you know what? There's someone sketchy over there to your right. I went across the street and it works really well, but is very expensive. And of course, privacy is an issue when you start undressing, you know, and what the person like looking at you in the mirror.
Right. You know, maybe people do, but that's a whole different business, you know.
But but people like Dan are amazing. And I do believe that, you know, the hope is that people like Dan will eventually see again.
But that's going to require new cells. And actually for him, he's going to need new eyes. So Dan actually has had because he had this Cotes disease that led to a nice pigmentosa. He had his eyes removed.
So whenever people are like this, some days you'll see on social media, people say, I believe he's blind. It's like guys even have eyes. Yeah.
So anyway, there's a lot that's a whole universe of stuff. But if you'd like to explore visual repair and visual restoration, offsetting vision loss, more on the. Happy to for the.
Yeah. We'd love to know. I'll be your guinea pig. Good party, Roland. Dude, we just did three hours. Oh, my my crazy. Oh, sorry. No. Oh God.
Pauses are also great. Great conversation. I really appreciate it.
If people want to get a hold of you on social media. What's your Twitter? You have Twitter. Instagram.
I have a Twitter, but I don't use it. I'm on Instagram. It's Huberman Lab, H2B, E.R., M.A, an L.A. bee. I teach neuroscience there. I'm big on public education. Beautiful. And we recruit subjects that allow for studies every now and again. I will announce them there. And yeah, that's the deal. Eventually I'm supposed to write a book, but I'm I've been too busy doing science.
Well, listen, man, this was so much fun and I think we could probably do a hundred of these. So let's do it again. Great. Thank you very much. I really appreciate you. All right. Bye, everybody.
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