The following is a conversation with Andrew Huberman,
his second time on the podcast.
He’s a neuroscientist at Stanford,
a world class researcher and educator,
and now he has a new podcast on YouTube
and all the usual places called Huberman Lab
that I can’t recommend highly enough.
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and a new collaborator.
We’re working on a paper together
about a topic we’re both really passionate about.
At the intersection of neuroscience and machine learning.
But that’s probably many months away from being published.
Still, I’m really excited about this work.
He’s one of the smartest and kindest people
I have the pleasure of talking to on this podcast,
so I hope we’ll talk many more times in the future.
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And now, here’s my conversation with Andrew Huberman.
Why do humans need sleep?
Let’s go with a big first question.
Okay, well, the answer I’ll start with
is the one that I always default to
when there’s a why question,
which is I wasn’t consulted at the design phase.
So I wriggle my way out of giving a absolute answer, right?
But there’s one mechanism that’s very clear
that’s super important,
which is that the longer we are awake,
the more adenosine accumulates in our brain.
And adenosine binds to adenosine receptors,
no surprise there,
and it creates the feeling of sleepiness
independent of time of day or night.
So there are two mechanisms.
One is we get sleepy as adenosine accumulates.
The longer we’ve been awake,
the more adenosine has accumulated in our system.
But how sleepy we get for a given amount of adenosine
depends on where we are in this so called circadian cycle.
And the circadian cycle
is just this very, very well conserved oscillation.
It’s a temperature oscillation
where you go from a low point.
Typically, if you’re awake during the day
and you’re asleep at night,
your lowest temperature point will be like 3 a.m., 4 a.m.,
and then your temperature will start to creep up
as you wake up in the morning,
and then it’ll peak in the late afternoon,
and then it’ll start to drop again toward the evening,
and then you get sleep again.
That oscillation in temperature takes 24 hours.
Plus or minus.
Plus your temperature.
Yeah, plus or minus an hour.
And I don’t,
even though I wasn’t consulted at the design phase,
I do not think it’s a coincidence
that it’s aligned to the 24 hour spin of the Earth
on its axis.
The fact that we tend to be bathed in sunlight
for a portion of that spin,
and in darkness for the other portion of that spin.
So there are two mechanisms,
the adenosine accumulation and the circadian time point
that we happen to be at.
And those converge to create a sense
of sleepiness, awakefulness.
The simple way to reveal these two mechanisms,
to uncouple them, is stay up for 24 hours,
and you will find that even though you’ve been,
let’s say you stay up midnight, 2 a.m., 3 a.m.,
provided you’re on a regular schedule,
like that I follow, not like the kind that you follow,
I will get very sleepy around 3, 4 a.m.,
but then around 5 or 6 or 7 a.m.,
which is my normal wake up time,
I’ll start to feel more alert,
even though adenosine has been accumulating further.
So adenosine is higher for me the longer I stay up,
and yet I feel more alert than I did a few hours ago.
And that’s because these are two interacting forces.
So adenosine makes you sleepy,
and then just how sleepy or how awake you feel
also depends on where you are
in this temperature oscillation that takes 24 hours.
Okay, so that’s fascinating.
So there’s a bunch of oscillations going on,
and then they kind of, through the evolutionary process,
have evolved to all be aligned somewhat,
and they interplay.
So you said your body temperature goes up and down.
There’s chemicals in your brain that oscillate,
and then there’s the actual oscillation
of the sun in the sky.
So all of that together has some impact on each other,
and somehow that all results in us
wanting to go to sleep every night.
Right, so, and we can get right into the meat of this,
so I guess we just dove right in,
but the temperature oscillation
is the effector of the circadian clock.
So every cell in our body has a 24 hour rhythm
that’s dictated by genes like clock, purr, BMAL.
This is one of the great successes of biology.
They give a Nobel prize to Rappert,
I don’t know if Rappert got it, forgive me,
but sorry if you got it, Steve, congratulations.
If you didn’t, I’m sorry, I wasn’t on the committee.
Nonetheless, did beautiful work, Steve Rappert and others,
but Mike Roshbosh and other people worked out
these mechanisms in flies and bacteria and mammals.
There are these genes that create 24 hour oscillations
in gene expression, et cetera, in every cell of our body.
But what aligns those is a signal
from the master circadian clock,
which sits right above the roof of the mouth,
called the suprachiasmatic nucleus.
And that clock synchronizes all the clocks of the body
to this general temperature rhythm
by way of controlling systemic temperature,
which makes perfect sense.
If you want to create a general oscillation
in all the tissues and organs of the body, use temperature.
And so that work on temperature,
if people want to explore it further,
was Joe Takahashi, who was at Northwestern,
now at UT Southwestern in Dallas.
And it is absolutely clear that humans do better
on a diurnal schedule, sorry, Lex,
than a nocturnal schedule, because you could say,
well, provided I sleep and push adenosine back downhill,
which is what happens when we sleep,
adenosine is then reduced.
And provided I am on more or less a 24 hour schedule,
why should it matter that I’m awake when the sun’s out
and I’m asleep when the sun is down?
But it turns out that if you look at health metrics,
people that are strictly nocturnal do far worse
on immune function, on metabolic function, et cetera,
than people who are diurnal,
who are awake during the daytime.
And animals that are nocturnal, it’s the opposite.
And animals that are so called crepuscular,
which tend to be active at dawn and at dusk,
this is a beautiful system, I won’t go down that rabbit hole,
but these are animals whose visual systems operate best.
They tend to be predators like mountain lions.
They have optimized their waking times
for the times when the animals they eat
can’t see well in those light conditions.
But given the rod cone ratios in their eyes,
that the mountain lion is picking off.
It’s like when you see a special forces
and they are looking through night vision goggles
and they have a clear advantage, right?
They are seeing in the dark.
That’s basically what it’s like to be a mountain lion
as opposed to a bunny rabbit.
Would you say that a lot of these cycles evolved
in the predator prey relationships
of the different throughout the food chain?
So it’s basically all somehow has to do with survival
in this complicated web of predators and prey.
Almost certainly, there had to have been a time
in which humans being awake and active at night,
as opposed to during the day,
led to higher levels of lethality.
And probably particular in kids,
you imagine kids running around in the dark
and getting that where there are a lot of animals
that can see really well under those conditions
and humans can’t.
And this would be all preelectricity.
Even if you’re carrying a torch,
I mean, the range of illumination on a torch
is nothing compared to what a nighttime predator,
like a large cat or something can do.
I mean, they basically, they can see everything they need to
in order to eat us and not the other way around.
So one fascinating thing you said
is that blew my mind and we went right past it,
which is the temperature is a really powerful,
like if you were to think about the ways
that different parts of the body,
different systems in the body
would communicate with each other,
temperature would be a really good one.
And that just, I mean, maybe it’s obvious,
but it kind of blew my mind just now
that yeah, these systems are all distributed.
And they have to kind of,
they’re not actually sending signals,
but they’re coordinating.
They need some sort of universal thing to look at
in order to coordinate.
And temperature is a nice one to build around.
And that way you could control the behavior
of all these different systems
by controlling the temperature.
Right, it’s attractive to think of a mechanism
where this master circadian clock secretes a peptide
or something that goes and locks to receptors
in all the cells and gets it just right.
But that leaves far too much room for variability,
binding affinities, cells in a lot of parts of our body
are at different stages of maturation.
They’re turning over liver cells and so forth.
And for instance, we have a clock in our gut
and in our liver such that if we were just take out
your liver and put it on a table
and just look at the expression of these genes,
it would be in a 24 hour oscillation on its own.
It’s independent, but something has to entrain them
and keep them all synchronized.
And so it’s not obvious that it would be temperature.
Takahashi’s great gift to biology was to show
that all the stuff coming out of this master circadian clock
at the end of the day, that’s a weird statement,
no pun intended, at the end of the day and the night,
at the end of the story, it all boils down to making sure
that the temperature of tissues oscillates
in the same fashion.
That’s blowing my mind and thinking like
what other mechanism could possibly exist
to create that kind of oscillation.
Well, you’re Russian, it’s cold in Russia
for a lot of the year.
The hibernation signal in certain animals
is a remarkable signal.
There are peptides secreted from this very same clock
that in animals like ground squirrels or bears,
they go into a kind of a torpor
where everything, reproduction, metabolism,
everything is reduced while they’re in their cave.
They don’t actually stay asleep all of winter.
That’s a myth.
And they actually do these very dramatic
and periodic arousals from hibernation
where they just shake and shake and shake.
It looks like a seizure.
And then they go back under into the torpor.
That’s from a peptide that’s released.
But that’s different
because that’s about shutting down the whole system.
It’s clear that having these very regular oscillations
every 24 hours is essential for everything
from metabolism to reproduction.
Is there an optimal temperature for sleep
that I should mention?
I think your latest episode,
you and people should go check out
helixsleep.com slash Huberman to support Andrew.
Thanks for the plug.
I mean, the amazing thing about this stuff
that you’re creating,
oh, and yes, you have a new podcast.
In this past month, you did a whole series on sleep,
which people should definitely check out.
There’s some podcasts that come out
that just make me want to be a better human being
by just the quality.
Three Blue One Brown, Grant Sanderson is like that for me.
Just like, wow, this is education is best.
So Andrew symbolizes that, captures that brilliantly.
So go support the sponsor
so he doesn’t stop doing the thing.
So I think they have a cooling pad too.
So the 8 Sleep Mattress sponsors me.
They sent me a mattress and it’s been,
I’ve never, listen, I used to sleep on the floor.
Sleep where you fall.
Sleep where I fall.
I don’t give a shit.
It doesn’t really matter.
But so like, I would have never bought a nice mattress
because it’s like, why?
This is a floor, it’s fine.
But it was a game changer to be able to control temperature.
Like for me, it’s cooling.
I don’t know what the hell it is.
Well, you want the brain and nervous system
and rest of the body needs to drop
by about anywhere from two to three degrees
in order to get into your deepest sleep
and transition to sleep.
That’s really going to help.
You don’t want to be cold that you’re bothered
and can’t fall asleep.
But that’s why some people like it really cold in the room
and under a warm blanket or with socks on,
for some people that can be good
because this temperature oscillation is such
that as your temperature is dropping,
that correlates generally with the most sleepy phase
of your circadian cycle.
So cool is better for falling and staying asleep
and sleeping deeply.
And then I guess like that’s what 8 Sleep showed.
They have like an app is it warms back up to wake you up.
The idea that I haven’t actually used it.
I’m like, this is stupid.
People say it works,
but I just keep it the same temperature throughout the night
but warming it up, I guess wakes you up,
which is fascinating.
Yeah, because the wake up signal is,
it’s interesting to think about it’s not just correlated
with an increase in body temperature.
The increase in body temperature
is triggering the release of cortisol from your adrenals.
And that’s the wake up signal.
Do you think it’s absolute temperatures we’re talking about
or is it just even relative?
Just even just the decrease.
Well, everyone’s gonna have
slightly different basal temperature.
The idea that everybody should be 98.6.
I mean, that’s a myth.
And there are theories that body temperature overall
has been dropping in the last 50 years or so.
I doubt that’s true for somebody who is athletic like you
and is young and healthy.
But basically the coldest period of that 24 hour cycle
is when you are going to be sleepiest.
There’s actually a period within that 24 hour cycle,
it’s a time point called your temperature minimum.
And your temperature minimum tends to be about two hours
before your typical wake up time.
I’m not talking about the wake up time
in the middle of the night where you go use the bathroom
or where you set an alarm to go catch a flight.
I mean, if you were to just allow yourself
to sleep without a clock for a few days,
measure when you typically wake up,
two hours before then is your temperature minimum.
And that temperature minimum turns out to be
a very important landmark in your circadian cycle
because it turns out that if you get bright light
in your eyes in the hours immediately
before your temperature minimum,
so two to four hours or anytime within the two
or four hour window before that temperature minimum,
you are going to what’s called delay your circadian clock.
The next day, that whole oscillation
is going to move forward.
It’ll make you want to go to sleep later and wake up later.
Whereas if you get bright light in your eyes
in the hours after that temperature minimum,
so let’s say for me, typical wake up time is 6 a.m.,
my temperature minimum somewhere around 4 a.m.
If I get bright light in my eyes, 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m.,
it’s going to advance that oscillation
so that I’ll want to go to bed earlier
and wake up earlier the subsequent nights.
So you might say, wait, but most nights
I go to sleep and wake up at more or less the same time.
Why is that?
And that’s because the same thing
is happening on both sides.
You are both advancing your clock a little bit
and assuming that you’re looking at light in the evening,
you’re also delaying your clock a little bit.
So you get kind of captured in between
and then your rhythm more or less oscillates
at the same period, as we say, as the spin of the earth.
Unless you’re like you where you’re,
I get text messages from you sometimes at odd hours
and if you’re on the East Coast,
then I know that you had to have been pulling
basically an all nighter.
Yeah, yeah, that’s the interesting point
about the messiness of sleep.
So most people seem to perform the best
when they have like a regular sleep schedule.
I perhaps am the same, but I don’t know that.
And I tend to believe that you can also perform
relatively optimally with chaos of sleep,
of like a weird soup of like power naps
and all nighters and all of that,
as long as you’re like happy doing what you love.
And maybe you can tell me what you think about this.
So I tend to, for myself, try to minimize stress in life.
So what I found for myself with diet,
with sleep is that if I obsess about it being perfect,
then I’ll actually stress quite a bit when it’s not.
Like I’ll feel shitty when I don’t get enough sleep
because I know I should be getting more sleep
as opposed to the actual physiological effects
of not getting enough sleep.
I find if I just accept whatever the hell happens,
happens and smile and just take it all in,
like David Goggins style, like if it sucks,
it’s even better or what is it,
Jocko’s like good or whatever he says.
I think there are several things
that you said that are important,
but I agree that one can have a dysregulated sleep schedule
and still be a happy person and productive.
Much of my life, I’ve pulled all nighters
and slept weird schedules.
I think many people can probably relate to going to sleep,
waking up four hours later, being up for an hour or two
on your computer, then going back to sleep
and getting amazing sleep the next day functioning.
I think it’s important that people have highlighted
the importance of sleep and getting enough rest.
I do think it’s gone too far
and now I’m editorializing a little bit,
but I think that we’ve created this anxiety about sleep
that if we don’t sleep enough, we’re going to get dementia.
If we don’t get sleep,
then the reproductive access is going to completely crash.
There’s a lot of evidence to the contrary and as well,
just based on personal experience
and based on the fact that sure,
it may be that a solid eight hours
with no interruptions in there or nine or 10
could do great benefit,
but you can do really well if you do what you say,
which is you wake up,
you don’t want to start stressing about it,
creating this meta stress about sleep.
Being happy is actually one of the most powerful things
that you can do,
allowing yourself to go down that rabbit hole of stress
for the following reason.
A lot of our fatigue is not due just to the buildup
of adenosine or time of day,
the circadian thing we were talking about earlier.
An additional factor is that effort is related
to the release of epinephrine,
of adrenaline in our brain and body.
At some point, those levels get so high
that we get stressed mentally,
we get stressed physically and we want to give up.
There are good data published in Cell
showing that that signal, the epinephrine signal,
eventually accumulates and there’s a quit point.
Dopamine, the molecule of pursuit and reward
and feeling good, resets our ability to be in effort.
In fact, a lot of people don’t know this,
but dopamine is actually what epinephrine is made from.
If you look at the biochemical cascade,
it starts with tyrosine,
which is found in red meats and things of that sort.
And tyrosine is eventually converted
through things like L dopa into dopamine.
Dopamine is made into epinephrine.
So, I mean, this sounds kind of new agey,
but happiness, joy and pleasure in what you’re doing
creates a chemical milieu that provides more
of the chemicals that allow for effort.
And there’s nothing new agey about that.
It’s in every biochemistry textbook.
It’s in every decent neuroscience textbook.
They just don’t talk about the happiness part.
They just talk about the dopamine part.
So, I think that limiting your stress
and at least recognizing, okay,
if you’re pulling an all nighter
or you’re somehow on messed up sleep,
that there is going to be a point in that 24 hour cycle
where your brain is not trustworthy,
where your mental state is not worth placing too much weight
on because you are near that temperature minimum.
And near that temperature minimum,
which is correlates to that two hour,
about two hours before you would normally wake up,
the brain is hobbling along.
And anything you feel or think at that time
should not be given too much value.
But if you can trick yourself into thinking
that’s the pleasure point,
you afford yourself a huge advantage.
There’s a study done by a colleague of mine at Stanford
that showed that positive anticipation
about the next day events actually is a powerful metric
for creating quality sleep,
even if the sleep is very reduced.
And you’ll love this one.
And a lot of people are going to,
might be critical of this.
So, I just want to make sure that,
so this is work done out of Harvard Medical.
It was Bob Stickgold’s lab
and Emily Hoagland did this study that showed
looking at Ochem, performance on Ochem scores.
Okay, so organic chemistry at Harvard
is pretty tough subject, highly motivated,
a number of very good control groups in this study.
What she showed was that consistency of total sleep duration
was far more important for performance on these exams
than total sleep duration itself.
So it’s not that just getting more sleep
allows you to perform better.
Consistently getting about the same amount of sleep
is better for performance, at least on Ochem,
than just getting more.
So that’s referring to more
that there should be a consistent habit
versus the total amount.
To me, like the entirety of the picture of sleep
is similar to nutrition in that it feels like it’s,
there’s so many variables involved
and it’s so person specific.
So, you know, a lot of studies,
I mean, this is the way of science,
has to look in aggregate the effects on sleep.
It doesn’t focus on high performers
which are individuals ultimately.
Like the question isn’t,
so it’s a very important question,
is like what kind of diet fights obesity, reduces obesity?
It’s another question,
what kind of diet allows David Goggins
to be the best version of himself?
So these high performers in different avenues.
And the same thing with sleep,
like people that tell me
that I should get eight hours of sleep,
it’s like, it’s, I mean, I get it
and there may be right, but they may be very wrong.
There’s no evidence that eight is better than six,
that you could very well do better on six than on eight.
There are a few other things that turn out to be
strong parameters for success in this domain.
For instance, your entire life, waking or asleep
is broken up into these 90 minute ultradian cycles.
If you look at ability to attend or do math problems
or do anything, you know, drive,
performance tends to ramp up slowly within a 90 minute cycle
peak and then come down at the end of that 90 minute cycle.
And in sleep, we go through these stage one, two, three,
four REM, et cetera, we’ll talk more about that if you like,
those on 90 minute ultradian cycles as well.
Ending your sleep after a 90 minute cycle
at the near the end of a 90 minute cycle,
say at the end of six hours,
in many cases is better for you
than sleeping an additional hour, seven hours
and waking up in the middle of an ultradian cycle.
And there are a few apps that can measure this
based on body movements and things like that,
that have your alarm go off
at the end of an ultradian cycle.
And if you wake up in the middle of an ultradian cycle,
sometimes not always you can be very groggy
for a long period of time.
I certainly do better on six hours than I do on seven.
I happen to like an eight hour sleep, it feels great,
but I haven’t slept an entire eight hours
without waking up in the middle of the night at some point
in, I don’t know, forever.
I can’t remember, it’s probably some point in infancy.
And I function well during the day.
I think that that’s an important parameter
is how do you feel during the day?
Almost everybody experiences some sort of dip in energy
in the late afternoon
or what would correlate to their temperature peak.
And that’s a good time of day
to get either a 90 minute or less nap,
or if you’re not a napper or you can’t nap,
feet elevated has been shown to be good for clear out
of some of this, the glymphatic system
is this kind of like sewer system of the brain
that you can clear stuff out.
So legs elevated, or one thing that I’m a big proponent of
and that my lab has been studying
is what I now call NSDR, non sleep deep rest.
And this is just lying down.
There are some scripts that we’re gonna put out there soon
as a free resource.
There’s some hypnosis scripts
that my colleague David Spiegel has put out there
as a free resource,
but non sleep deep rest is allowing your system
to drop into states of a real calm
that allow you to get better at falling asleep later.
And they can be very restorative
for cognitive and motor function.
There’s at least one study out of Denmark
that shows that the basal ganglia,
which is an area of the brain
that’s involved in motor planning and action,
one of these 20 minute non sleep deep rest protocols
resets levels of neuromodulators
like dopamine and the basal ganglia
to the same levels that they were
right after a long night’s sleep.
So I also respectfully or semi respectfully disagree
with the idea that you can’t recover lost sleep.
What does that mean?
I mean, there’s no IRS for sleep.
So what does it mean to be in debt for sleep?
If you’re falling asleep during the day and you’re sleepy,
like you’re falling asleep, that’s a good sign of insomnia.
It means you’re not sleeping enough at night.
If you’re fatigued during the day,
but you’re not falling asleep,
so you’re just exhausted,
but you’re not finding yourself falling asleep in meetings
and in conversation,
then chances are you’re fatiguing your system
through something else,
like a long run in the middle of the night in Austin
or whatever it is that you’re up to lately at 3 a.m.
Yes, there is a magic to the nap.
And maybe you could speak to the,
because you mentioned these protocols
that don’t necessarily, so they’re non sleep.
But to me, the nap one or two a day
can almost irrespective of how much sleep
I get the night before,
have a fundamental change in my mood, in my performance.
For the better or for the worse?
For the better, for the better.
So I do tend to kind of experiment with durations.
It’s consistently surprising to me
how like a nap of like 10 minutes,
I don’t know, maybe you can speak
to the perfect duration of a nap,
but I find that it’s like magic
that a short nap does as much good
and often better than a longer one, for me, for me,
What would be a longer one?
Longer than 90 minutes?
No, no, like 90 minutes,
or a bit longer than 90 minutes, like two hours.
Yeah, that’s starting to drop you into REM sleep.
And even if it’s a tiny amount of REM sleep,
people can come out of those naps kind of disoriented.
I mean, remember, in sleep, space and time
are totally uncoupled.
And so that’s an odd state to reenter the world in
if you’re not gonna stay there for a while,
like for a good night’s sleep.
I think a 20 minute nap is pretty fantastic.
Would you say that’s the,
if you were to recommend to the general,
it’s very weird to recommend anything
to the general populace,
because obviously it’s very person specific,
but what’s a good one will you say to friends?
Is 20 minutes a good powder?
20 or 30 minutes.
20 or 30 minutes,
because you’re going, unless you’re sleep deprived,
you’re going to stay out of REM sleep,
rapid eye movement sleep.
If you’re sleep deprived, you’ll drop right into it.
If you’ve ever traveled and you’re really jet lagged,
you go to the hotel, you lay down for one second,
all of a sudden you’re just like,
you’re in a psychedelic dream,
which can be pretty great too.
But I think that 20, 30 minutes,
and if you can’t sleep, some people have trouble napping,
then learning to relax the body
as much as possible,
like trying to remove all expression from your face,
completely letting your body kind of float.
If people have a hard time relaxing when they’re awake,
there’s some terrific clinically
and research tested hypnosis protocols
that we could provide links to that are cost free
and that teach you how to just completely
release the alertness button and you just start drifting.
Now, the problem is if you don’t have an alarm
or something to go off,
the other day I did one
and I’m almost embarrassed to say this,
but there’s a component of it
where you actually are supposed to let your hand float up
because it’s a hypnosis script.
So they, it’s my colleague, David Spiegel in the script,
he says, let your hand float up.
I woke up an hour later and my hand was still floating.
Yeah, and I was completely relaxed.
So hypnosis is just a matter of going deep relaxation,
narrowing of context, and it’s all self imposed.
A lot of people think that hypnosis is like the stage thing
with the pendant and the chicken,
people fucking like chickens,
but real hypnosis is self hypnosis.
You’re learning to, it involves some shifts
in the way that you, the hypnotic induction involves
looking up, closing your eyes, slowly deep breath,
and then imagine yourself floating.
And people vary on a scale of about one to four,
four being the most easily hypnotized.
There are a few people who it’s very hard for them
to allow themselves to go into these states,
but for most people, they just, they’re gone.
And it’s nice if you can have access to those states,
because when you come out of it, you feel amazing.
You feel like you slept the whole night,
at least most people report that.
So refresh, alert.
Ready to go.
I mean, basically you’re ready.
Yeah, I know you have this interesting challenge coming up
and I’m curious what you’re going to do to reset
in the hours, the frequency of running is every four hours.
It’s not going to allow you to get any more
than a couple hours sleep in between.
So we should tell it to people.
I’d be curious to get your thoughts and advice on it.
I’m on March 5th, running 48 miles with Mr. David Goggins.
So four miles every four hours and people should join us.
He’s, that mad man is going to be live on Instagram
starting at 8 p.m. Pacific on March 5th.
You’re going to join him in person.
And I was trying to clarify like, okay,
so we’re going to like, there’ll be like friendly people
around or something.
No, it’s just me and him.
I don’t know.
Like, I just feel it’s very difficult to be
with David alone in a room.
I imagine his, I mean, I’ve done some work with David.
His energy is infectious.
That’s an intense schedule.
And the periodicity of those four hour,
every four hours, four miles means
that there’s no chance of catching
an extended block of sleep.
So it’s about three hours that you have
non exercising every time.
And of course, it takes time to try to fall asleep
and there’s an intensity to the whole thing.
I mean, it’s probably impossible to get anything more
than two hours of sleep if you wanted to.
So the optimal thing is probably from the sound of it,
I’d be curious to see what you think,
but like it’s getting a few 90 minute naps.
Okay, well, I thought about this a bit
before we met up today.
So I think there are two general approaches
that could work.
Neither one necessarily better than the other.
One would be just to hammer through the whole thing,
just to get your level of alertness and adrenaline ramped up
so that you don’t expect yourself to sleep.
There are certain advantages there.
One is a subjective kind of emotional advantages,
which is if you can’t sleep,
you’re not gonna be stressed about that.
And if you do fall asleep, it’s a bonus,
provided you wake up and you don’t look up
and you realize David’s been out running for half an hour
and you’re behind, right?
But chances are, that’s not the way it’ll go.
You set an alarm.
So that’s one approach.
And I grabbed that from a couple of friends
who were in the SEAL teams and they’ll say that,
during BUDS, there’s this infamous hell week
and there’s this five days,
definitely five days of no sleep,
although there is a component where they offer a nap
at one particular point.
And a lot of people will say that it’s worse
to go down for that nap and then be woken up 20 minutes later
than to just stay up.
So that’s one option.
Let’s call it the full blitz hammer through option.
And if you happen to fall asleep, you do.
It’s a bonus.
The other one would be to really anchor
in these ultradian cycles.
So coming back from a run,
unless you’re thoroughly exhausted,
you’re probably going to have a few minutes
where you’re going to want to stay awake.
It’s going to be hard to just immediately fall asleep.
And getting as much sleep as you can
in the intervening periods,
provided that you guys aren’t posting constantly
or doing something else.
There’s a question of whether or not you want to nourish,
whether or not you want to eat or not in that time.
Anytime we put food in our gut,
I don’t care if it’s meat or oatmeal
or broccoli or cardboard,
you’re drawing blood into the gut.
And so you are going to divert some energy
towards digestion and it’s going to make you sleepy.
There’s a reason why the rest and digest,
the parasympathetic nervous system is called that.
So you could decide that you were only going to sleep
in between certain blocks.
That would be another way to think about this.
Because I did this last year.
I ran very slow.
Some of it was walking.
I was listening to audio books.
And one of the biggest mistakes I did is to overeat
during that time.
It made the experience very unpleasant.
So I have been considering basically eating almost nothing
throughout the day.
Being fasted will increase alertness
because high levels of epinephrine in your system
You just think about fasting or being thirsty
before you get exhausted.
People always think if I don’t eat, I’m going to be tired.
No, the energy that you derive from food
is going to be used from glycogen after a long storage
and conversion process.
So the food that you eat is going to consume energy
And so a lot of people feel better fasted.
And presumably throughout history,
people have fasted for long periods of time
and had to stay up for two or three days.
And God forbid, if a family member is sick,
you can stay awake in the hospital without any trouble.
So that alertness system, it’s all mental.
Actually, and then there’s a third.
So you could try and sleep or take care in between.
And then there’s a third approach.
But I didn’t come up with it, but David did.
So I actually texted him earlier
because I had a feeling that I heard
that you were going to do this challenge.
So I asked David.
So these are David Goggins words, not mine.
One, being organized is super important.
Two, you want to waste as little time as possible.
Three, you need to eat, sleep and rehab
in as little time as possible
so you can sleep as much as possible.
By the way, this is the first time I’m reading this.
Four, meal prep and gear prep, et cetera, are very important.
That’s consistent with everything I know about military.
They don’t leave too much to chance.
Five, again, these are David’s words.
All that said, he’s fucked on most all that
because he’ll be interviewing me before or after.
I will also be interviewing him.
Five, long story short,
the only thing that might help is a very special pill.
Ooh, this is interesting.
They’re called SIU pills.
Hard to get, but I believe he can get them.
SIU stands for suck it up.
Tell him to grab his balls.
He will find those pills there.
That’s number six, all right.
And then the last one, stay hard, brother.
Stay hard, brother.
That was one of the other things
that I think makes this challenging
is that it’ll be doing a podcast throughout.
So first of all, I’ll do a long one before and after,
but also I’ll have to come up
with things to talk to him about.
So it’s a different thing to do something privately
and then publicly.
I know it doesn’t seem that way,
but one of the hardest,
the hardest thing I had to do last time
was to turn on the camera and talk to the camera
because last time I did it,
I recorded every single time I did a leg,
I recorded something I’m grateful for.
It’s just kind of unrelated.
I’m not a fan of talking about how I’m feeling
or how the run is going.
I want to do something totally unrelated to the run
and with the run as the background,
sort of something I’m grateful for
or just any kind of interesting discussion.
Gratitude, I mean, I hate the word hack,
like, oh, it’s a dopamine hack or it’s a serotonin.
I don’t like the word hack because A,
it’s disrespectful to hackers who do a real thing
and B, a hack implies that it’s some sort of trick
that you’re kind of gaming the system.
You know, what works is mechanism, right?
Biological mechanisms were designed to work
and they were selected for to work
under variable conditions.
And as you know, and I know,
and we have great appreciation for the fact
that the nervous system was designed
to be an adaptive machine
so that you don’t have to sleep eight hours every night.
You can do this thing.
And things like gratitude allow you to tap
into chemical resources.
And that’s not a hack.
The fact that being grateful for something external
to the event happens to release serotonin
and have a certain soothing effect or a dopamine
and give you more epinephrine and let you go further,
that’s not a hack.
That’s actually what allowed the human machine
to evolve to the point that it is now.
Every time, you know, an inventor eventually
created something that worked and felt great about it,
you can imagine that the first, you know,
air flight felt pretty awesome
and motivated those people to go on and do more.
They didn’t just go on, you know, yawn and go have a beer.
So being able to access the genuine internal states
of gratitude and reward works.
You can’t trick the system.
You can’t pretend that you’re grateful for something,
but if you can identify or attach yourself
to some larger goal or something
that’s deeply gratifying to you,
or place it in service to a relative that passed away
that you care a lot about, that’s not a hack.
That’s accessing the deepest components
of your nervous system.
And to steal your kind of lingo,
you know, there’s real beauty there, right?
Yeah, but for an introvert like myself,
and I think David, I don’t know if he’s an introvert,
but like, he’s not, despite the fact
that he has written a great book and he communicates,
he puts himself out there,
he’s not really a fan of communication.
He’s not, I don’t know if he’s energized
by speaking his mind.
I don’t know him well enough to know.
I mean, we’ve done a little bit of work together
and, you know, we’re in communication now and again.
He’s obviously super impressive.
I don’t know.
It seems like he’s a pretty private guy.
Yeah, so like, you know, so I don’t have access to that.
So for me, I’ll just speak to myself,
and I think David is the same,
but I’ll speak to myself that it was a hugely draining thing,
not to experience the gratitude,
experiencing the gratitude just like you’re saying
is really energizing, and it’s a powerful thing.
It’s a, it can lift up your mood.
But to turn on the camera and have to use words,
which is very difficult to do,
to explain like what you’re feeling
and do it in a way that you know
a bunch of people will be watching is really draining.
And one of the things I’m concerned about
that in this whole process,
how do I keep my mind sharp
while also keeping the physical performance sharp?
And that’s a little bit scary
because talking to David like actual intellectually sharp,
like thinking, being charismatic as much as I can be,
and like being so maintaining a sense of humor too,
because I can be, I become with sleep deprivation,
with exhaustion, you start being.
The Russian bear comes out.
You start being such a,
like I become a David Goggins essentially like.
Oh, it makes you irritable.
Sleep deprivation makes us irritable.
It’s clear so that in the early part of the night,
we get a higher percentage of those old Tradian cycles
are occupied by slow wave sleep,
sometimes just called non REM sleep.
And those early night sleep bouts
are great for muscular repair
and for certain forms of learning,
but REM sleep, the rapid eye movement sleep,
which it starts to accumulate
and occupy more of those 90 minute old Tradian cycles
toward the late part of a sleep bout.
So typically toward morning,
but toward after you’ve been asleep a while,
that’s when you do the emotional processing.
That’s when we recover the ability to feel refreshed
and not irritated by things.
And if you deprive people of REM sleep,
they become selectively bad at uncoupling the emotion
from things that happened in the previous days.
So the little things start to seem like big things.
I always know I’m REM sleep deprived when I’m irritable.
And when I look at like the word the,
and it doesn’t look like it’s spelled right.
And I’m kind of pissed off about it.
Like something’s off.
And we actually are becoming slightly psychotic
when we’re REM sleep deprived.
You’re not going to get a lot of REM sleep in this thing,
except as you fatigue more,
if you do fall asleep,
you’re going to drop more and more into REM
so that those 90 minute cycles,
you won’t have to go through stage one,
stage two, stage three, and then REM,
you’re just going to drop right into REM.
So you can count on your system to compensate for you.
But I think that just the knowledge
that you tend to get irritable as the time goes on,
just that third personing of yourself,
that awareness, the observer,
that can be very beneficial
because there may be bouts during this event
when you just should probably say nothing.
And maybe you just, I don’t know,
smile and record or not smile or do whatever it is
because you’re going to be conserving energy.
If it feels like a grind,
that’s epinephrine being released.
That’s epinephrine that you could devote
to the physical effort.
But humor is an amazing anecdote for this
because it resets that,
it’s that dopamine release
that gives us that fresh perspective.
And it’s a real chemical thing.
It’s not a hack.
It’s not a trick.
It’s not a visualization.
It’s biology in action.
Well, but I think the act of interviewing,
of conversation in these processes,
even if you don’t want to do it,
the right thing to do, even when you’re feeling irritable,
is to do the third person view
and be able to express with words
that you’re feeling irritable.
Like express what you’re going through.
Use words, which I hate doing.
I honestly, I think my ultimate thing
would be just to never say a single word to David Gagas
and just go through hell.
It doesn’t matter what we do,
but to do it quietly, to also express it.
That’s my ultimate hell.
And I think that’s…
Well, he’s definitely going to be,
if I know David at all,
he’s going to try and find your buttons.
Like he’s going to, I mean,
even though he knows he can complete this,
and I believe that he trusts that you can complete it too,
I believe you will complete it.
You know you will complete it, right.
There’s no question about that.
But he’s not going to make it easier for you.
He’s going to make it harder.
Well, I’m afraid.
So I’m like, it’s very difficult for me.
So 48 miles is not easy.
I have not been training that much.
So I’m not ramping up,
but it’s not like going to kill me.
We’ll see what happens.
Of course, for him, he might always get bored
because I think the 48 miles for him is easy.
I don’t know that that ever gets easy.
I have a friend, Casey Cordial, who works with David.
He does some physical rehab type stuff with him.
And he took Casey on a 50 miler
and Casey said it’s like 16 miles and do it.
He was just like, he had hit his wall,
but he found it.
They find it to get, you know, you find that portal.
There is one thing I want to mention.
There’s some very good physiology
that can perhaps support the actual running effort part.
These are very new data.
We have a study going on with David Spiegel at Stanford,
looking at how different patterns of breathing
can affect heart rate variability.
Heart rate variability is good.
There’s this interesting mechanism
that I think most people might not realize,
but that medical students learn that your breathing
and your heart rate and your brain
are in this really remarkable interplay.
It goes like this.
When you inhale, this isn’t breath work.
We’re not going to do breath work.
But when you inhale, the diaphragm moves down.
The heart gets a little bigger
because there’s a little more space in the thoracic cavity.
And as a consequence, blood flows a little bit more slowly
through that larger volume.
And there’s a category of neurons, the sinonitrile node,
that sees that, that recognizes that slower rate
through that larger volume.
It sends a signal to the brainstem
and the brainstem sends a signal back to the heart
to speed the heart up.
So every time you inhale, you’re speeding the heart up.
When you exhale, the diaphragm moves up,
the heart gets a little smaller, the volume is smaller,
blood flows more quickly through the heart,
signal sent up to the brain,
and the brain sends a signal back to slow the heart down.
This is the basis of heart rate variability.
So at any point, if you feel like your heart is racing
and you feel like you’re working too hard
per unit of effort,
focus on making your exhales longer
or more intense than your inhales.
If ever you feel like you’re truly flagging,
you do not have the energy to get up,
it’s like, okay, it’s time to go and you’re exhausted,
you want to draw more oxygen into the system,
get your heart rate going faster.
Now, some people when they hear this probably think,
well, this is really obvious,
but there’s so much out there about breath work
and how to breathe and all this stuff,
but no one talks about how to do it in real time
while you’re exerting effort.
So this is something like almost like second by second,
you can adjust things just in real time
based on how you’re feeling,
but based on the heart rate.
The experience of the heart rate.
So one thing that could be very efficient
and we’re doing some work with athletes now,
so these are unpublished data,
but if you, while you’re running,
if you want to get into a nice cadence
of heart rate variability, do double inhales
while you’re running.
What this will do is that when you do the double inhale
has the effect of reopening the alveoli of the lungs,
your lungs are filled with tons of little sacks,
when they tend to collapse as you fatigue
and carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream.
And that’s when we start getting stressed.
If you’ve ever been sprinting and you start getting beat
and you’re going as hard as you can,
what you really need to do is double inhale
and reinflate these sacks in the lungs
and then offload a lot of carbon dioxide.
So when you’re at a steady cadence and you’re feeling good,
double inhale, exhale, double inhale, exhale
is a terrific way to breathe
while you’re in ongoing effort.
By the way, any recommendations or differences
in nose or mouth breathing?
So nasal breathing, there’s a lot of excitement now,
obviously about nasal breathing
because of James Nestor’s book, Breath.
There was also, if people are going to know about that book,
I do feel like out of respect for my colleagues,
there was a book by Sandra Kahn and Paul Ehrlich
at Stanford, both professors at Stanford
with a forward by Jared Diamond and Robert Sapolsky.
So some heavy hitters in this book.
And the book is called Jaws, A Hidden Epidemic.
And it’s all about how nasal breathing is better for us,
especially kids, than being mouth breathers
under most conditions for sake of improving immunity.
It turns out there’s a microbiome in the nose,
like all sorts of good stuff
about nasal breathing preferentially.
But when we exercise, you can do pure nasal breathing.
But the problem is once you get up to kind of third
and fourth and fifth gear effort,
you can’t nasal breathe and be at maximum capacity
unless you’ve been training it for a very long time.
So I would say double inhale through the nose,
offload through the mouth.
So double inhale, exhale while you’re in steady effort.
And then if you really feel like you need to gas it
and you’re pushing, the data show that then
just use whatever’s there, right?
Just go into kind of default mode
because bringing too much concentration to something
is also going to spend epinephrine.
The goal is to get into that, I don’t like the word,
but the flow state where you’re not thinking too much,
you’re just in exertion.
So these are things that can help in the transitions,
but I don’t think there’s any secret breathing technique.
Anyone who’s been in the SEAL teams will kind of,
they’ll tell you like, there’s no breathing technique, right?
There’s tools that you can look to from time to time.
And these double inhale exhales can be great
for setting heart rate variability very quickly
and getting into a steady cadence while you’re exercising.
But if there’s a sprint,
like if suddenly you guys are sprinting,
ditch the double inhale, exhale, and just sprint.
One thing that you mentioned,
he’s probably gonna push my buttons.
It’s a good place to ask a question about anger.
So I’ll probably get pissed off at him at some point.
And do you have thoughts from a scientific perspective
or also just the personal philosophical perspective
about the role of anger in all of this
and in managing alertness, performance?
I think about this a lot
because there’s so much out there
about how important it is to do things
from a place of love, you know.
I tweet about it all the time.
And I think, and love is powerful, right?
It is interesting that autonomic arousal alertness,
let’s just use simple language,
alertness physiologically looks identical
for love and excitement as it does for anger
and frustration and wanting to defeat your opponent
or whoever that opponent happens to be.
They’re identical except that the love component
does tend to be associated with the release
of neurochemicals of the serotonin and dopamine type
that do have this replenishment component.
I don’t think one wants to be in constant anger
and friction, but I mean, I’ll come clean a bit.
There’ve been portions of my career
where some of my best work, my extra two hours,
my ability to nail a really hard deadline or problem
has come from not wanting to get out competed
or from wanting to prove something.
These days, I’m not oriented from that place
toward my work quite as often,
but I think we should be really honest.
Anger is powerful provided it’s channeled.
It’s very, very powerful and it can give you a ton of fuel
and gas to push when otherwise you tap.
Yeah, Joe Rogan has, aside from being a fan of his,
has been an inspiration to sort of be,
to have a kind of loving view on the world
and the way you approach the world to me.
So I’ve tended to want to approach the world that way,
but in the same way, David Goggins has been an inspiration
to like, yeah, be angry at stuff and use it as fuel.
Like he almost conjures up artificial demons in his mind
just so he can fight them.
You know, but at the same time I tried that
because I did a challenge in the summer
of where for 30 days I was doing a lot of pushups
and it was, over time, it was counterproductive for me.
Like I found that it was easier to just,
like the rollercoaster that the emotional,
like being angry at stuff takes you can also be exhausting.
Oh, absolutely, and it can take you down,
like the ups of it are good, but the downs are bad.
And what I found is better to get,
to use it as a boost every once in a while,
but mostly to get lost in the,
you’re talking about the breath work,
the like getting lost in the ritual of it,
like the beat like that,
as opposed to going on the big rollercoasters of emotion.
Yet this brings us into the realm of neuroendocrinology.
There’s a fascinating relationship between
the hormone system and the nervous system.
And, you know, hormones work in general on slower timescales.
The definition of a hormone is a chemical released
at one location in the body,
goes and acts at multiple locations far away
within the body.
Pheromone would be between two bodies.
Neurochemicals like dopamine and serotonin
tend to work a little more quickly.
There are hormones like adrenaline and cortisol
that can work very fast,
but here I’m referring mainly to testosterone, prolactin.
Prolactin tends to be in men,
and women tends to make people kind of lazy
and want to take care of young.
It tends to throw down body fat so we can stay up late.
It’s secreted in response to having children.
These are all in humans and in animals.
There’s a very interesting relationship
between testosterone and dopamine
that speaks directly to what we’re talking about now.
So dopamine and testosterone are closely related
in the pituitary system.
And obviously testosterone comes from the adrenals
and from the testes.
But the major effect of testosterone
is to make effort feel good.
That’s what testosterone does.
It has other effects too, right?
androgenizing parts of the body, et cetera.
But it makes effort feel good.
The testosterone molecule is synthesized from cholesterol.
Cholesterol can either be made into cortisol,
a stress hormone, or testosterone, but not both.
So you have a limited amount of cholesterol
and it gets diverted towards stress
or this pathway where effort feels good.
That’s the pathway you want to get into.
The anger pathway,
if we were to just kind of play a mind experiment here,
the anger eventually is going to divert
more of that cholesterol molecule to cortisol and stress,
and you will be slowly depleting testosterone.
Now going into this,
you’ll have plenty of testosterone,
but after a couple of days,
there’ve been very interesting studies showing
that testosterone doesn’t necessarily drop
with sleep deprivation.
That’s a bit of a myth.
You need it to replenish testosterone.
You need sleep to replenish testosterone eventually.
But the real question is,
are you enjoying what you’re doing?
And here the work was,
some of the major work on this was done by Duncan French,
who runs the UFC Training Center.
He did his PhD at UConn stores,
did a really beautiful PhD thesis
looking at the relationship between stress hormones,
testosterone, and dopamine.
Really interesting work.
And the takeaway from all of this is,
if you can just convince yourself,
or ideally if you can just enjoy yourself,
you are going to maintain
or maybe even increase testosterone stores,
which will make effort feel good.
And to me, aside from neuroplasticity
where everything becomes automatic after this experience,
to me, that’s the holy grail.
When effort feels good, life just gets way better.
And we’re not talking about achieving the reward.
I’m not talking about the end of this thing.
I’m talking about the process of it feeling really good.
Yeah, there is a magic to,
I don’t know if you can comment on this,
but I find myself being able to,
if I just say I’m feeling good,
like this old hack of like smiling while you’re running,
if I just tell myself, I’m feeling really good right now,
no matter how I’m actually feeling,
I’ll start feeling way better.
And the whole thing, there’s a cascading effect
that allows me to maximize the effort.
It’s quite fascinating.
Hormones are powerful.
The relationship between thoughts and hormones
and these physiological things is enormous.
I had a colleague that a few years ago,
he was dying of pancreatic cancer.
And I was interviewing him
just because he’s an important figure in our community.
And I was a friend.
And there was one day where he told me,
he said, I don’t want to make it past the new year.
And it was crushing for me to hear.
And I knew that he had been on some androgen therapy
for a whole set of other things.
And I said, have you taken your androgen cream?
And he was like, no, I haven’t done it.
Go get it for me.
I have this on film.
He takes it, he puts the androgen cream on.
I’m not suggesting people take androgens, by the way.
10 minutes later, he says, you know what?
I think I want to live into the new year.
And I’m going to write 12 letters of recommendation.
He went to MIT, by the way.
He said, I’m going to write 12 letters of recommendation.
And he did.
And so there’s something about these molecules
that in an ancient way, in all organisms,
all mammals, as far as we know,
are linked to the will to live.
They’re linked to effort and making effort feel good,
which has been fundamental to the evolution of our species.
I always say, people think that the opposite
of testosterone is estrogen, but it’s not.
The opposite of testosterone is prolactin,
which makes us feel quiescent
and not in pursuit of things, et cetera.
Testosterone makes effort feel good.
Estrogen makes emotions feel okay.
And they are in mixed amounts in people,
as I say, have all chromosomal backgrounds.
I mean, you also mentioned fasting potentially
through this two day thing.
It’d be cool to get your thoughts about fasting in general.
Do you think on a personal level
and at a higher sort of level of studies
that you’re aware of and physiology and so on,
what do you think about intermittent fasting
of like not eating for 16 hours
and then having an eight hour window
or something I’ve been doing a lot recently,
which is eating only once a day.
So that’s 24 hour fast, I guess, one meal a day
or something I’ve been thinking about doing,
haven’t done yet of doing like 72 hours
or some people do like five day fasts in general.
So this will be for this particular run
will be a 48 hour fast if I don’t eat at all.
What do you think about that for performance,
for mood, for all those kinds of things?
I can speak a little bit to the science
and a little bit of my own experience
and then some anecdotes of people that have done very hard,
very long duration things and what they’ve told me.
So I just want to make sure I’m separating those out
so people know my sourcing.
I think now none of this is about the actual
longterm nutritional benefits of one thing or the other.
But if you look at the science on intermittent fasting,
it’s pretty remarkable.
Before I was at Stanford, my lab was in San Diego.
One of my colleagues was such in Panda at the Salk
is phenomenal biologist and researcher,
wrote a book called the circadian code.
It’s very, very good and kind of popularized
intermittent fasting, although there were others
that had talked about this before.
Ori Hofmechler talked about the warrior diet.
People probably might not know who Ori is,
but he’s sort of the originator
of this business of intermittent fasting
eating once a day or limited.
Anyway, Sachin has published papers,
peer reviewed papers in very good journals
like Cell and elsewhere,
showing that limiting the consumption of calories
to eight, four, six, or eight, or even 10 hours
of every 24 hour cycle
and keeping that more or less correlated with the light
with when the sun is out leads to less liver disease,
improved metabolic markers, less body fat, et cetera.
In the mouse studies, they even gave the mice the choice
to eat whatever they wanted, as much as they want,
as long as they restrict it to a certain period
within the 24 hour cycle, they did great.
They maintained a healthy weight or even lost weight.
When they took the same amount of food
and they stretched it out across the entire 24 hour cycle.
So this is eating every hour or two hours,
the animals got fat and sick.
So it’s pretty remarkable data.
How much of that translates to humans isn’t clear,
but one thing that’s really clear with humans is adherence.
We could talk a lot about nutrition
and some of the problems with the studies on nutrition
is that what people will do in a laboratory
is often hard to do in the real world.
Low carbohydrate diets just they tend,
because they tend to focus on foods
that have high amino acid content like meats.
Generally people are less hungry on those
than they are on calorie matched diets
of fruits and vegetables and carbohydrates,
because when the insulin goes up,
you get hungry and you want to eat more.
So this is not a push for carnivore
or a push against one thing or the other.
It’s just, there are a lot of factors,
but we know for sure that when you’re fasted
or when you have low amounts of carbohydrate in your system,
complex carbohydrate, your alertness is going to go up.
Fasting increases alertness and epinephrine
for the sole purpose of getting you to go out
and find food.
Can you imagine if our ancestors got hungry
and they were like, oh, I’m too tired to go find food.
We wouldn’t be here.
It’d be like robots or something.
One of your alien buddies will be like running the planet.
So I think that if you want to be alert,
fasting or keeping complex carbohydrates to a minimum
is very valuable.
If you want to sleep and you want to be sleepy,
ingesting foods that have a lot of tryptophan,
which is the precursor to serotonin,
so complex carbohydrates like rice and grains,
turkey, white meats,
those things do create a sense of sleepiness.
However, there is a caveat,
and this is one problem with the once a day meal,
is that anytime you have a lot of food in the gut,
you’re increasing sleepiness
because you’re diverting blood to the gut.
It’s going to trigger the vagus to signal to the brain
to shut down your system and utilize those nutrients,
digest and utilize those nutrients.
So I’ve done the once a day eating thing.
The problem is I eat so much in that meal
that I’m exhausted.
And so it doesn’t always lend itself well to the schedule.
But so in a six or eight hour eating block for me
is a little bit better.
I do eat carbohydrates.
I’m probably one of the few people left on the West coast
that actually consumes carbohydrates
and we’ll say that out loud.
I don’t know people eat carbs anymore, that’s weird.
Where do you even find carbs these days?
I like oatmeal.
I like rice.
The other time is if people are doing very high intensity
weight train, they need to replenish glycogen.
On the alertness side,
I do feel like it’s probably person dependent.
For me alertness, being alert makes my life better
in a lot of ways, more than just the alertness itself.
Like for example, one of the things I discovered
with fasting is that when I was training twice a day
in jujitsu, for example, and competing and so on,
I performed way better at things that you traditionally
would say you need carbs for,
which is explosive movements and all that.
I don’t know if I actually perform better
in terms of like the force of the explosion,
What I do know is the alertness resulted
in me doing the technique more precisely.
That’s the dopamine and epinephrine system in action.
And there are some other just purely physical aspects
to one diet versus the other that can be complicated.
If you’re ingesting carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates,
you’re going to replenish glycogen, which is great,
but they also tend to be bulky and fibrous.
And I’ve never rolled jujitsu,
but running when you have a lot of bulky fibrous food
in your gut or in your intestine, it can be a barrier.
It can be uncomfortable.
And so some people do really well on low carbohydrate,
meat rich diets, because they’re just not as bloated.
They’re not carrying as much water and other stuff.
Carbohydrate carries a lot of water molecules with it.
So there are aspects to being able to train
and being really explosive because you feel light.
One anecdote that really, again,
I’m not encouraging any one particular kind of diet,
but I have a friend who was in the SEAL teams.
I happen to know a number of people in that community.
And he told me that he did this very long fast.
It was a fast that I think you get to eat a little bit
of soup or broth.
And there’s like a bar or something,
but it’s like a nine day thing.
And he’s a very strong athlete.
And he said that on day six or seven,
he was running up some hills or something
while he was on deployment.
And he felt amazing.
He had kind of hit this other level.
He was somebody who had boxed in the Naval Academy.
He was somebody who knows and knew high output.
And he felt like he discovered the 13th floor,
that there was another floor to this performance space
that he hadn’t experienced except while he had fasted.
And he said that that was a remarkable clarity of mind,
energy, it’s a little bit of what you described.
He described a kind of suppleness and explosiveness.
So there’s probably something there.
On which day?
At once he was in the fifth or sixth day of the fast.
See, this is the thing is I’ve never been there
on the second, third, fourth, fifth day, that kind of thing.
But when I just don’t eat for 20 hours,
many times through my training, the clarity,
it’s like you feel like everyone is moving super slowly
and you’re able to like dominate people
you weren’t able to before.
Well, you might’ve slipped into,
or switched over rather into full ketosis.
And ketogenic diets done properly can be great for people.
The problem is if you do it wrong, you can really mess it up.
I tried it once and I basically got psoriasis.
I thought my scalp was going to fall off.
I was like sloughing off all this.
And then I stopped and I was taking the liquid ketones.
And then all of a sudden I felt better again.
But I was told that I just did it wrong.
So I think there’s a right way and a wrong way
and you have to get it right.
And so I’ve experimented quite a bit with keto
to see how my body feels and doing it the right way
and following all the instructions.
There’s definitely a huge difference that,
like for example, one of the things I discovered,
everyone knows who said this,
but I tried this recently over the past year
is I started drinking when I don’t feel great.
If I’m fasting, a bone broth, a chicken bone broth.
And for some reason, like magically it could be,
this is the other thing, the mind, I don’t know,
but it makes me feel really good.
Well, it could be the salt.
So I mean, neurons, the action potential neurons,
as you know, is sodium is rushing into the cell.
You need enough extracellular sodium
in order for your brain and nervous system to function.
And so salt, I mean, unless people have hypertension,
salt is great.
There was an article in Science Magazine about a decade ago
about how salt had been demonized
and unless people have hypertension,
provide you drink enough water, salt is great.
You need sodium, magnesium, and potassium to function
and for your nerve cells to work.
I mean, people who overdrink water
and don’t consume enough electrolyte die.
Now, hydration is really important.
I know David’s really into hydration.
He’s mentioned that a few times.
I mean, hydrating properly is key.
And so you definitely want to make sure
that you’re drinking enough water
and getting enough electrolytes.
We should have actually talked about that at the beginning
because that’s going to keep
your nervous system functioning well.
And a lot of people, they’ll get shaky or jittery
when they’re fasting and they’ll think they need sugar.
And if they just put some salt in some water,
they feel fine.
And like the other stuff, potassium, magnesium,
whatever the other electrolytes are.
But yeah, those three.
I mean, salt, yeah.
Magnesium is good before sleep.
I mean, this is a vast space.
And we’re kind of talking about the overlap
between neurochemicals, hormones, and nutrition.
And it’s a fascinating space.
And it’s one that the academic community has gems
within the textbooks.
It hasn’t really made it into the public sphere yet.
And I think that’s because people get so caught up
in the being, are you vegan or are you carnivore?
And there’s a vast space in between too
that people can explore.
Like I’m not a competitive athlete.
So I eat meat and I also eat vegetables and I eat fruits
and it’s just about timing them.
But I tend to eat carbohydrates when I want to be sleepy.
I eat them at night.
And everyone said, that’s the worst thing.
You can’t do that.
You sleep great after eating a big bowl of pasta.
I’ll tell you.
And by the way, I should give you a big thank you
for connecting me with Bell Campo Farms.
They sent me some meat, I think because of you.
And it’s delicious.
So I really appreciate that.
I mean, it also connected me with this whole world
of people who are doing farming in this ethical way
and like really love the whole process.
And from both like a human level,
but also scientific level.
And the result is, it’s like ethical,
but also it’s delicious.
And it makes you think about your diet
in a whole new kind of way.
Yeah, I don’t have any commercial relationship
to Bell Campo, so I can be very clear.
I’ve known Anya Fernald,
who is the founder and CEO of Bell Campo.
I’ve known her since the ninth grade.
It is true that her parents are faculty members at Stanford,
they’re colleagues of mine,
but she’s just a serious academic of nutrition,
but also of sustainable agriculture,
of all sorts of things.
And also the meat just, it’s awesome.
It tastes really good.
And no, I’m not getting paid to say that.
And no, they’re not a sponsoring my podcast.
It’s just, I feel like if you’re gonna eat animals,
if that’s in your framework and you’re gonna eat animals,
knowing that the animals were raised as happy as could be
until time of slaughter is at least important to me.
And actually talked to her,
so I will talk to her on this podcast actually.
And she invited me like a week ago out to visit the farm
in May or June or whatever.
Yeah, they have the farm up at the Oregon border.
I haven’t been there yet, but I’ve seen the pictures.
It looks awesome and I was like, yes.
It looks beautiful.
Let me know when you’re going.
Yeah, let’s go together.
You’ll probably run there, but I’ll drive there.
Yeah, but all that said, I do want to,
cause a lot of people who are vegan write to me
and I do want to seriously,
in the same seriousness that I approached keto,
I do wanna go like on a few months
to switch to a vegan diet at some point to really try it.
I haven’t done it yet
cause I’m afraid I’m gonna function better.
I’m Argentine by my dad’s side.
And I don’t eat meat super often,
but well, for most people it would seem often,
but I do love steak, I do.
So I’m afraid I’m gonna feel better.
There’s a social element to steak, you’re right.
Cause coming from a Russian background,
like I can’t imagine going to visit my folks,
like my parents for Thanksgiving or something to say,
mom and dad, I don’t eat meat.
So instead of, you know.
Well, I think if you’re gonna eat meat,
getting it from sources that are compatible
with a continuation of the planet is good.
I mean, there are some real problems
with the factory farm meat.
You know, you drive up and down the five
and you pass that point where there are all those cows.
I mean, as somebody who loves animals,
it’s clear that it’s, you know,
you wanna limit the amount of suffering of those animals.
Whenever I hear about, you know,
we know people that hunt and that go and get their own meat.
I really admire that.
I admire that people do that.
We don’t tend to do that in the hills around Stanford,
you know, there are mountain lions back there,
but that’s about it.
And I’m certainly, I admire the vegan mindset
of just making that decision.
You’re just not gonna consume other beings,
but you know, I haven’t gone that way.
But performance wise, I’m just curious because I was
surprised, I was certain that eating five, six,
seven meals a day is the right thing to do
for if you wanna be perform your best
when I was like 20 or whatever.
And I would eat oatmeal, like I thought it’s obvious
I have to have a really, a lot of carbs in the breakfast.
I had a lot of preconceived notions.
And then when I started eating like once a day,
this was at the peak of my competing in jiu jitsu,
it was like, everything I know about nutrition is wrong.
You realize that like, you have to become a scientist.
First of all, you have to read literature,
you have to learn, you have to experiment,
but you also have to become a scientist of your own body.
In the same way, I have a lot of preconceived notions
of what performance is like under vegan diet.
And I want to do it right.
Like seriously, not necessarily for the ethical reasons,
but to see if it’s performance wise, like can I,
I remember there’s like a fruitarian diet
where you eat fruit only.
These extremes are like, they’re pretty,
they’re interesting cause people have this need.
The extremes are informative though, right?
I mean, well controlled experiments,
you eliminate as many variables as you can
except the one you’re interested in.
So people are running these experiments.
I think that it’s hard to imagine getting,
I know people say you can get enough amino acids
from plant based sources and I believe that.
I think it probably takes a little more work.
One thing that’s really clear is that the benefit
of these omega three, omega six ratios,
like fish oils and things like that.
There are some data that show that the getting
at least a thousand milligrams of the EPA,
which is in high in fish oils, but other things too,
even some meats and other plants,
it in double, you know, in matched placebo,
double blind controlled studies,
placebo controlled double blind studies have shown
that those can offset antidepressive symptoms
as much as some of the selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors like Prozac and Zoloft.
So that’s pretty impressive.
And in Scandinavia, people know, especially in winter,
to consume a lot of those omega threes
because they’re good for you, they’re good for the brain.
That’s the other question.
Nutrition wise, what kind of stuff have you come across
Like I basically only take fish oil,
like you said, electrolytes.
Electrolytes with water, the David Goggins diet.
Plus fish oil.
And then again, the sponsor, they made it so easier.
The sponsor of your podcast and mine,
athleticgreens.com slash Huberman.
I don’t know, like it’s great stuff for sure,
but it also just takes away the headache of like,
I don’t have to think about.
Yeah, you’re going to get a bunch of vitamins and minerals.
It does that.
It sounds like a plug, but I have genuinely been buying it.
I’m like, you know, no discount, no affiliation
or anything since 2012.
I think I heard about it on the Tim Ferriss podcast.
I was like, oh, I’m going to try that stuff.
And I liked it.
I mean, when I was starting my lab,
I was working insane hours.
I still work very long hours.
And getting sick limits productivity.
And I also wanted to train
and I wasn’t doing much training back then.
Now I try and get, you know, three, four sessions in a week.
I’m not doing nothing like what you and David are doing
or what, you know, Joe does,
or like you guys are way more regimented
and consistent than I am.
But I think that being healthy and feeling good
is one of the great benefits to a career
is having energy and just being not sick.
Can we take a step back to sleep for a little bit?
And so people should definitely look through your podcast.
The first five episodes were on sleep or no,
I guess the first opening episode wasn’t.
First one was sort of how the brain works generally
is to give people some background.
And then we did four episodes on sleep,
including some stuff about food, temperature, exercise,
jet lag shift work for the jet lag folks and shift work.
Yeah, take a masterclass on sleep.
And then you’re going on to a next topic
in the next few episodes, which is incredible.
We’ll, neuroplasticity, we’ll talk about it.
But on sleep, one of the cool things about the human mind
when it sleeps is dreaming.
What do you think we understand
about the contents of dreams?
Like what do dreams mean?
All the stuff we see when we dream,
is there something that we understand
about the contents of dreams?
Some of it is very concrete.
So Matt Wilson, who, MIT guy, showed in rodents
and it’s been shown in nonhuman primates
and now it’s been shown in humans
that there is replay of spatial information during sleep.
So initially what Matt showed was that
as these little rodents navigate through a maze,
there are these cells in the hippocampus called place cells
that fire when the animal encounters a turn or a corridor.
And that exact same sequence is replayed during sleep.
And it turns out this is true in London taxi cab drivers.
Before phones and GPS were what they are today,
the London taxi cab drivers were famous
for knowing the routes through the city,
through these mental maps.
And their analysis of their place cell firing during sleep
and during wakefulness.
And so we are essentially taking spatial information
about the location of things and replaying it during sleep.
However, it’s not replayed so that you remember it all.
It’s replayed so that if there’s a reason to remember it,
the links to the emotional system,
to the components of the limbic system and hypothalamus
that are relevant,
like you got into a car crash at a particular location,
or you lost a bunch of money
because you were a cab driver, Uber driver,
we’d say nowadays,
and you were stuck at one particular avenue all day
and you were getting yelled at by your spouse,
that information gets encoded
so that you never forget that at that particular time of day
and that particular time of year,
and this thing happened.
So context starts getting linked to experience.
So there’s spatial information
that’s absolutely replayed during sleep.
And we experience this sometimes as dreams.
The dreams that happen early in the night
when slow wave sleep or non REM sleep dominates,
tends to be sleep of very kind of general themes
and kind of location.
It can feel a little bit eerie and kind of strange.
Not so incidentally,
the early phase of the night
is when growth hormone is released.
In the 80s and 90s,
there was a drug that was very popular.
It’s very legal now called GHB.
You could actually buy it at GNC or a store then.
I never took it, but it was a popular party drug
and some famous celebrities died while on GHB.
They were also on a bunch of other things,
so it’s not clear what killed them.
But GHB was very big in certain communities
because it promoted a massive release of growth hormone
and gave people these very hypnotic states.
So people go to clubs
and they were in these very hypnotic states.
It was part of a whole culture.
That’s early night.
And those dreams tend to not have
a lot of emotional content or load.
That phase of dreaming is associated
with the occasional jolting yourself out of sleep
because it’s somewhat lighter sleep.
The dreams that occur during REM,
during rapid eye movement sleep
and that dominate towards morning are very different.
They tend to have very little epinephrine
is available in the brain at that time.
Epinephrine again being this molecule
of stress, fear, and excitement.
You are paralyzed during these REM dreams.
You cannot move.
There’s intense emotion
at the level of what you’re feeling
and there’s so called theory of mind.
Theory of mind is an idea that was put forward
by Simon Baron Cohen, Sasha Baron Cohen’s cousin.
I think on the podcast,
I mistakenly said that he was at Oxford.
It’s like the cardinal sin.
He’s at Cambridge, forgive me.
I’m not British.
So the dreams in REM are heavily emotionally laden.
And it’s very clear that those dreams and REM sleep,
if you deprive yourself of them for too long,
you become irritable and you start linking
generally negative emotions to almost everything.
REM, the dreams that occur in REM sleep
are when we divorce emotion from our prior experiences.
And it’s when we extract general rules and themes.
MIT seems to have come up a lot today,
but it’s highly relevant.
Susumu Tonagawa, Nobel prize for immunoglobulin,
but obviously fantastic neuroscientist as well,
has shown that the replay of neurons in the hippocampus
and elsewhere in the brain is kind of an approximation
of the previous episode and a lot of fear unlearning
of uncoupling emotion from hard or traumatic events
that happened previously occurs in REM sleep.
So you don’t want to deprive yourself of REM sleep
for too long.
And those dreams tend to be very intense.
Now, epinephrine is low
so that you can’t suddenly act out your dreams.
But what’s interesting is sometimes people
will wake up suddenly while in a REM dream
and their heart will be beating really, really fast.
That’s a surge of epinephrine that occurs
as you exit REM sleep.
So you were having this intense emotional experience
without the fear.
You were essentially going through therapy in your sleep,
self induced therapy.
It’s like trauma therapy,
where you try and divorce the emotion from the experience.
And then you wake up.
And some people also have the other component of REM,
which is atonia, which is paralysis.
Pot smokers experience this a lot more than non pot smokers.
There’s an invasion of paralysis into the waking state.
I’m not a pot smoker, but I have experienced this.
And when you wake up and you’re paralyzed for a second,
But then you jolt yourself alert.
So the REM sleep is important
for kind of the self induced therapy
and forgetting the bad stuff.
It’s good for uncoupling the emotions from bad experiences.
And just there are two therapies.
Eye movement desensitization reprocessing,
which is a eye movement thing that shuts down the amygdala
during therapy, not during sleep.
And ketamine, which is a dissociative analgesic.
It’s actually very similar to PCP.
And ketamine is now being used as a trauma therapy
when someone comes into the ER, for instance,
and they were in a terrible car accident.
I mean, these are horrible things to describe it.
They saw a relative impaled
on the steering column or something.
And they will give this drug
to try and shut off the emotion system
so that, because they’re not gonna forget,
let’s be honest, you don’t forget the bad stuff,
but it is possible to uncouple the bad events
from the emotional system.
And there’s all sorts of ethical issues
about whether or not that’s good or bad to do.
But PTSD is a failure to uncouple the emotion
from these intense experiences.
So the goal of this kind of therapy
is in the uncoupling for that to be permanent.
So they can recount the event
and they can describe it
without it triggering the same somatic experience
of terror and dread,
because terror, those feelings can be debilitating,
And you’re saying physiologically,
in REM sleep, a similar process is happening.
Thematically, REM sleep is about experiencing
or replaying intense emotions
without experiencing the somatic,
the physical component of the emotion,
either the acting out
or the accelerated heart rate and agitation.
Likewise with things like ketamine therapies.
That’s the idea,
is you’re uncoupling the physical sensation
from the mental events.
What is REM sleep and why is it so special?
Maybe we can comment on that.
Rapid eye movement sleep.
Yeah, discovered in the 50s at the University of Chicago.
It’s intense brain activity,
high levels of metabolic activity,
dreams in which people report a lot of the theory of mind.
We were talking about Simon Baron Cohen.
Theory of mind was actually something
that he developed for the diagnosis of autism.
If you take kids, most kids of age five, six, seven,
put them in front of a TV screen in the laboratory
and you have them watch a video
where a kid is playing with a ball or a doll.
And then the kid puts it into a drawer,
shuts the drawer and walks away.
And another kid comes in and you ask the child
who’s observing this little movie,
you say, what does this second child think?
And a typical kid would say,
they want to play and they don’t know
where the ball or doll is,
or they’re upset or they’re sad, they want the doll.
Autistic children tend to say the doll’s in the drawer.
The toy is in the drawer.
They tend to fixate.
They can’t get on the event.
They can’t get into the mind of that.
They don’t have a theory of mind.
Dreams in REM have a heavy theory of mind component.
People are after me trying to get me.
You can assign motive to other people.
I’m afraid, but it’s because there’s an expectation.
That doesn’t tend to happen in slow wave sleep dreams.
Now, all this of course is by waking people up
and asking them what they were dreaming about,
which from a standpoint of a AI guy
or a machine learning or a neuroscientist kind of like,
but it’s the best we’ve got.
But brain imaging in waking states
while people view a movie
and then brain imaging while people are sleeping
supports the idea that that’s basically what’s going on.
So REM sleep is amazing
and you’re not going to get much of it
during your bout with Goggins,
but you will afterward.
Why, so to comment, why won’t I?
So is it not possible to get into it real quick?
Only if you’re very, very sleep deprived,
but because you’re going to be at high muscular output,
that’s going to bias you
towards more slow wave sleep overall.
And your body and brain are smart.
They, it will know,
they will know that your main goal is to recover
so you can keep going.
So you can keep firing neuromuscular contractions
and you can keep running so that you can,
I mean, it’s amazing to think like, why do we ever stop?
Unlike weight training
where I can’t do a 500 pound deadlift, I just can’t.
I could train for it,
but I certainly can’t do a 600 pound, I can’t do that.
What causes us to stop an endurance event
is usually not a physical barrier.
It’s almost always a purely mental barrier.
And that’s a very interesting problem.
I mean, neuroscientists don’t tend to think about
those sorts of problems
because it sounds so non neuroscientific,
but that’s fundamentally related to the question of,
what is pursuit?
What is the desire to push and to carry on?
Is there a neuroscientific answer
for that question you think?
I think the closest thing is this paper
from Janelia Farms, the Howard Hughes campus,
showing that if you put animals
into a simulated environment
where you can measure their effort,
the forces while they’re running,
and you can control the visual environment,
and you can create a scenario
where the animal thinks that its output is futile.
It knows it’s running and it’s actually running,
but you change the frequency of the stripes
going by in their visual world,
such that they think they’re not getting anywhere,
and eventually they quit.
And the thing that determines whether or not they quit
is a threshold level of epinephrine in the brainstem.
If you drop that level back down
or you give the animals dopamine, essentially,
they keep going.
If you take dopamine down,
they’re like, this isn’t worth it, it’s helpless.
This isn’t worth my time and energy.
Well, this is where the difference
between humans and nonhuman animals is interesting,
because it does feel like humans have an extra level
of cognitive ability that might be relevant here.
Well, you can pull from different time references.
So if you’re in that moment,
you’re going to need a kit of things to pull from.
So you can think this is in honor of someone else
that passed away,
and you will find a gas reserve that’s amazing, right?
Now, whether or not mice are like,
I remember my brother back in the other cage
when I was a little mouse, we don’t know.
But it’s very likely that they don’t do that,
that they’re so present,
they’re in the experience of there and then and now,
that they aren’t able to extract from the past,
and they’re not able to project into the future,
like how great it’s gonna feel
when I get to the end of this really lame VR corridor.
I don’t think they think about that.
And think about like, if I quit now,
how will that have,
what kind of effect will it have on the rest of my life
in the future difficult times?
Like if you allow yourself to quit
in this particular moment,
you’ll become a quitter more and more in life,
and then you’re going to not get the other nice,
the opposite sex mammals.
That’s pretty severe, you went there.
I don’t know.
You took it the whole way to evolution and back again.
I mean, but that’s really it.
I mean, our ability to time reference
in the past, present or future.
I do believe that we can be in the present and the past,
or the present and the future, or only in the present,
or only in the future, only in the past.
But I don’t think that we can really think
about past, present and future all at once.
And this has a similarity to covert attention.
Like we can split our visual attention into two things.
We really can do a task, even though we can’t multitask.
Or we can bring those two spotlights of attention
to the same location.
But it’s very hard to split our attention in really well
into three domains, excuse me, into three domains.
I think that that’s very, very challenging.
And our time referencing scheme tends to be just one
or two time references.
So Lisa Feldman Barrett, I’m not sure
if you’ve done work together,
but at least you’re connected.
I found out about her because of you,
on your podcast with her.
And then I brought her on to Instagram,
doing an Instagram live about emotion.
And it was fascinating.
And she’s a very spirited and very, very smart woman.
Fearless and brilliant.
So I love her, she’s amazing.
She kind of, she’s not a scholar of hallucinogens
or dreams, but she had this intuition
that there may be a connection between the kind
of dissociation that happens in dreaming
and that happens in like psychedelics.
I, because of my previous conversation with you
on this podcast, Matthew Johnson
from Johns Hopkins reached out and he said,
but he commented, I think, on something that we commented
on, I don’t even remember exactly what,
but that there’s not many studies.
It’s not being psychedelics and not being rigorously studied
in an academic setting, like with a full rigor of science.
And he said, well, actually that’s exactly what we’re doing
and they’re extremely well funded now.
And it’s been a long battle to get it accepted
as a serious scientific pursuit.
So, but, and I’d like to ask you a little bit about that,
but do you have a sense about connection
between dreams and psychedelics or these different
explorations of mind states that are outside
of the standard normal one, that’s the wake mindset?
Yeah, I loved your discussion with Matthew.
I knew of the Hopkins group and the stuff they were doing,
but I didn’t know much about it at all.
And I learned a ton from that podcast.
I reached out to him just to say,
I love what you’re doing.
I think it’s incredible.
So yeah, your podcast has been a great source
of serious academic and intellectual conversation for me.
I think what they’re doing at Hopkins is amazing.
He has a collaborator there actually
that had a very popular paper.
I just throw out there for fun,
who is a postdoc at Stanford.
Her name is Gul.
She’s Turkish, I believe.
And I apologize, her last name escapes me at the moment,
but that’s just a function of my brain.
She had a paper showing that she put octopi on MDMA
on ecstasy and found out, this is published
in current biology, it was a great journal,
showing that the octopi then wanted to spend more time
with other octopi and they started cuddling.
So they’re colleagues out there.
But the Hopkins project is super interesting
because I think they were initially supported mainly
through private philanthropy.
And now you’re starting to see some more interest
at the level of NIH about psychedelics.
It’s a complicated space because the psychedelics
are always looked at through the lens of the 60s
and people losing their mind.
And there’s a, I always say,
you don’t want a Ken Kesey out of the game.
Ken Kesey was amazing, right,
part of the whole beat generation thing.
And he was actually at the VA near Stanford.
That’s where he eventually, in Menlo Park,
he wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,
or maybe that was about him.
Anyway, the comments will tell me how wrong I am,
but I think I’m tossing these words
in the right general direction.
But Huxley, Kesey, they did a lot of LSD
and they all lost their jobs, right?
They lost their jobs at big institutions
like Harvard and Stanford and elsewhere, or they left
because they made themselves the experiments.
Hopkins, as far as I know, is one of the first places,
if not the first place, where whatever Matt
may or may not be doing in his own life, I don’t know.
It’s really about the patients
and whether or not the patients
in these institutional review board approved studies,
whether or not they’re getting better
in situations like depression.
I think it’s clear that there’s a very close relationship
between hallucinogenic states and dreaming
of the sort that were described for REM dreaming.
And there’s a terrific set of books
and body of scientific literature
from a guy named Allan Hobson,
who was an MD, is at Harvard Med,
and he wrote books like Dream Drugstore.
One of the first neuroscience books I ever read
was about hallucinations and how psychedelics
and dreaming are very similar.
That was way back when I was in high school.
I was just curious.
And he really understood the relationship
between LSD and REM dreams and how similar they are.
I think psychedelics, and Matt knows way more about this
than I do, of course, but psychedelics
have some very interesting properties.
They are certainly not for everybody, right?
And kids, it’s a problem.
I think the major issues right now
around the psychedelic conversation is that it’s clear
that they can unveil certain elements of neuroplasticity.
They make the brain amenable to change,
changing up space time relationships,
changing up the emotional load of an event
and being able to reframe that.
It’s clear that happens.
But there’s two major issues.
One is that people talk about plasticity
as if plasticity is the goal,
but plasticity is a state within which
you can direct neurology.
And the question is what changes are you trying to get to?
So people are just taking psychedelics
to unveil plasticity without thinking about
what circuits they want to modify and how.
I think that’s a problem.
I think there’s great potential, however,
for people opening up these states of plasticity
with psychedelics or otherwise,
and directing the plastic changes
toward a particular end point.
And there’s an absolutely spectacular paper
out of UC Davis published as a full article in Nature
just a couple of months ago,
showing that there are psychedelics
that are now can be modified.
So chemists have gotten into the game now
and modifying to take away the hallucinogenic component
where you still get the neuroplasticity components.
And for a lot of people it’d be like, oh, that’s no fun.
That’s not giving you the wild experience.
But I do think that that holds great potential
for people that wouldn’t otherwise orient
towards some of these drugs.
So I think it’s really marvelous what’s happening
and what’s about to happen.
And I think there is one drug in that kit of drugs
that’s very unusual, like psilocybin, LSD,
those promote heavy, heavy serotonin release
and lateralized connections ramp up, et cetera.
Matt talked about all that.
But MDMA, ecstasy, is a very unusual situation
where dopamine is very, very high
because of the way the drug is designed.
Dopamine release, it goes through the roof.
So people feel great and they want to move
and they have a lot of energy.
But serotonin levels are also high
and that’s a very unnatural state.
And why MDMA may, and I want to highlight may,
have particularly high potential
for the treatment of certain forms of depression
is an interesting question.
Because never before, as far as we know in human history,
has there been a possibility of opening up dopaminergic
and serotonergic states at the same time,
dopamine being the molecule pursuit and reward
and more and more, and serotonin being one of bliss
and being content right where you’re at.
So it’s almost like those two things wrap back on themselves
and create this very unusual state.
And I think the bigger conversation
is what to do with a state like that.
Like is it about self love?
Is it about developing love for another person?
Is it about forgetting hate?
Like these are powerful molecules.
And I think if the academic community
and the clinical community is going to move forward
with them in any serious way,
I think there needs to be a conversation
about what they’re being used for.
Right, and coupled with that,
I think similar to what you’re saying,
like Matt has talked about,
as others have talked about,
some of the biggest benefits of like progress,
whether it’s like quitting smoking
and all this kind of stuff is in the days after,
it’s the integration of the experience.
So maybe you open up the brain to the neuroplasticity,
but then there’s like work to be done.
It’s not, you shake up something in the biology of the brain
but you have to do then it’s work.
Absolutely, a friend of mine who’s a physician,
he says, who’s quite open to this idea
that psychedelics could play a real role in real medicine.
Says, better living through chemistry
still requires better living.
And I think it’s a beautiful statement.
I wish I had said it, but he gets the credit.
But the plasticity window opens.
And then as you said, what are you going to do in the two
weeks, three weeks, four weeks afterward?
Because that’s the real opportunity.
But those psychedelic experiences are really a case
of an amplified experience inside of an amplified
experience so much so that everything seems relevant.
And it’s fascinating.
I mean, my hope is that the AI and machine learning
and the brain machine interface and all that
will eventually be merged with the psychedelic treatments
so that an individual can go in,
take whatever amount of whatever’s safe for them,
working with a clinician and really direct the plasticity
while maybe stimulating the medial frontal cortex
or increasing the observer or decreasing the observer
in the brain or decreasing the amygdala.
I mean, it’s doable.
It’s doable with transcranial magnetic stimulation
and it’s for shutting down activity
and it’s doable with ultrasound.
Ultrasound now allows very focal activation
of particular brain regions through the skull,
So it’s approaching the same kind of therapy
from different angles.
One AI is the computational size of injecting
like the robotics injecting like maybe you can even think
about it as like electricity, the electrical approach
versus then like the chemical approach.
And then the psychology is subjective, right?
So it’s gonna take some real understanding
of what that person’s lexicon is.
Like, you know, that wasn’t a pun, sorry.
I’m sorry, it’s terrible, I’m like the worst.
That’s the one thing I know from the feedback on my podcast.
My jokes are terrible, but I never claimed to be funny.
But somebody who they really trust
and understands when somebody says, you know,
for a very stoic person, like I’m imagining
you interviewed the great Dan Gable, right?
I don’t know anything about Dan,
but can you imagine like you ask Dan,
like, you know, how you feel about something
while on one of these drugs?
And like, I mean, his languaging might,
if he says that was troubling,
it might mean that it was very troubling
or not troubling at all.
So people are, language is a poor guide
because if I say I’m upset, how upset is that?
Well, that’s very subjective.
So you need, we need, can you build a tool for that?
Can you build an AI tool for that?
Yeah, deeper, yeah, well.
Maybe that’s the eye, maybe that’s our,
that’s what the eyes could reveal.
So language is not just words, it’s everything together.
And that’s one of the fascinating things about the eyes
and the window to the soul.
I mean, they express so much, the face, the eyes,
the body, I mean, Lisa talks about that,
the communication of emotions, it’s a super complex.
Perhaps it’s a bit of a side fun tangent,
but Matt, Matthew Johnson brings up DMT
and the experience of DMT is from a scientific perspective,
just a mystery in itself over its intensity
of what happens to the brain.
And of course, Joe Rogan and others bring it up
as a very different special kind of experience
and elves seem to come up often.
I’ve never tried DMT, what allows for hallucinogenic states?
And it, I mean, DMT is a really interesting molecule.
There are a lot of people experimenting now with DMT
and the way they’ve described it is as a kind of a freight
train through space and time, very different
than the way people describe LSD type experiences
or psilocybin where time and space are very fluid,
but it tends to be a kind of a slower role, if you will.
So it’s clear that DMT is tapping into a brain state
that’s distinctly different than the other psychedelics.
And you mentioned jujitsu and these other communities.
I mean, I think it’s interesting because jujitsu
is a nonverbal activity and people get together
and talk about this nonverbal activity
and they show great love for it in the same way
that surfers, I’ve known some surfers in my time
and they will get up at the crack of dawn
and drive really, really far to sit in the water
and wait for this wave to come.
I have to imagine it’s pretty fantastic.
I think that human beings now,
some of whom are in the scientific community
are starting to feel comfortable enough to talk about
some of these other loves and other endeavors
because they do reveal a certain component
about our underlying neurology.
I’m fascinated by the concept of wordlessness,
activities in which language is just not sufficient
to capture and in which feel so vital as a reset,
as important as sleep.
I think that’s one of the dangers of the phone
is not that you’re going to get into some online battle
or that you’re always staring at the phone
is that it’s a words.
As we read things, we’re hearing the script in our head.
And I think getting into states
where we are in a state of wordlessness
is very renewing and replenishing and just can feel amazing.
And I believe also can help us tap into creative states
and allow our neurology to access creative states.
And sleep is one such wordlessness, period.
So one of the most interesting things to me
are states that one can approach in waking,
non sleep depressed, wordlessness through,
maybe it’s jujitsu, maybe it’s for some people surfing,
maybe it’s dancing, maybe it’s just,
I don’t know, staring at a wall, who knows?
But where the language components of the brain
are completely shut down.
And it has to be the case that drugs are no drugs,
that the brain is entering and starting to states
and starting to use algorithms
that are distinctly different
than when we’re trying to compose things
in any kind of coherent way for someone else to understand.
There’s no interest in anyone else understanding
what you’re experiencing in that moment.
And that’s beautiful.
And I think it’s not just beautiful because it feels good.
I think it’s beautiful because it’s important
and it’s clearly fundamental to our neurology.
And your sense is there’s a connection between dreams
and DMT and like psychedelic,
like all of the, you can understand one
by studying the other.
So for example, dreams are also very difficult to study,
but they’re more accessible.
It’s safer to study.
And we’re told we need to get more of it.
Whereas with psychedelics, there’s this big question mark.
Is it gonna make everyone crazy?
Is it gonna be legal?
I mean, it’s kind of interesting how,
if one looks on Instagram,
one could almost think that these drugs are already legal
based on the way that people commute, but they’re not yet.
There’s still a lot of them are scheduled.
And there’s a lot of questions.
I mean, but nevertheless, it’s like,
my hope is that science opens up
to these drugs a little bit more.
It’s just, I have this intuition that,
like a lot of people share,
that they would be able to unlock deeper understanding
of our own mind.
It’s any kind of, same as studying dreams.
Well, creativity is in the nonlinearities, right?
But productivity is in the implementation of linearities.
I mean, that’s what is absolutely clear.
This is why I think we were talking earlier
about why a formal rigorous training in something
where other people are looking at you
and telling you, no, not good enough,
go back and do it again.
There’s real value to that
because otherwise it’s just ideas.
It’s just vapors.
You know, one thing that Matt mentioned
as the study that they’re working on is,
as opposed to, I think most of the psychedelic studies
they’ve done is on how to treat different conditions.
And one of the things they’re working on now
is to try to do a study where, for creatives,
for people that don’t have a condition
that they’re trying to treat,
but instead see how this,
how psychedelics can help you create.
If you take creatives and you give them more psychedelics,
they’re not gonna be able to get out of their room.
I don’t know.
Well, but this is the,
maybe you can speak to that, psychedelics or not,
or dreams or tools in general, how to be better creatives.
That’s an interesting,
I don’t often see studies of this nature
of like how to take high performers
in the mental creative space
and get them to perform even better.
So it’s not average people.
It’s like masters of their craft, like taking,
I mean, his examples was taking an Elon Musk,
which is in the engineering space and maybe musicians
and all that kind of stuff and studying that.
That’s a, I mean, that’s weird.
Usually the science, the scientific exploration there
has been done by the musicians themselves,
as has been documented.
Like jazz is like all nonlinearities, right?
But if it’s, but the people still have to know
how to play their instruments, right?
There’s some early skill building that’s critical.
I mean, when you mentioned someone like Elon,
I mean, virtual, I mean, he’s already a virtuoso, right?
Cause he, and in so many different domains,
I’ve never met him, but it’s clear, right?
He, it’s not just that he’s ambitious and bold and brave
and all that, it’s all that.
And there’s clearly a different way of looking
at the same problems that everyone else is looking at.
And people are probably banging their head
against the refrigerator thinking like, think differently,
think it doesn’t work that way.
It involves, there’s a certain anxiety in for the,
I’m not talking about for Elon, but I don’t have no idea.
But I think for somebody who’s very structured,
very regimented, very linear,
the anxiety comes from letting go of those linearities.
And for the person that’s very creative,
the anxiety comes from trying to impose linearities, right?
The really creative artists or musician, they’re,
they seem nuts.
They seem like they can’t get their life together
because they can’t.
And they, you know, we look at people who are kind of
pseudo Asperger’s or Asperger’s or some forms of autism
and they are so hyper linear,
but you take away those linearities and they freak out.
And that’s kind of the essence of some of those syndromes.
So I think that the ability to toggle back and forth
between those states is what’s remarkable.
I mean, because we’re here and we’re having this discussion,
I mean, Steve Jobs is a good example.
He probably the best example,
somebody who actually talked about his own process,
about the merging of art and science,
art and engineering, humanities and science.
Very few people can do that.
Well, you seem to have a capacity to do that.
Like you know poetry and you are AI guy,
like you, there’s nothing linear about poetry
as far as I can tell.
I mean, I do wonder, just like we’ve been talking about,
if there’s any ways to push that to its limits
to explore further.
I don’t like leaning, this is why I’m bothered
there’s not more science and psychedelics is,
I haven’t done almost,
so I’ve eaten mushrooms a few times allegedly,
but that’s it.
And the reason I don’t do more,
the reason I haven’t done DMT is because it’s illegal
and it’s like not well studied.
And I’m in those things,
I’m not usually at the cutting edge, but I’m very curious.
And it feels like there could be tools
to be discovered there, not for fun,
not for recreation, but for like encouraging
whether you’re a linear thinking to go nonlinear
or it’s nonlinear to go linear, like to shake things up.
You mentioned Dan Gable,
the idea of Dan Gable on psychedelics is fascinating to me
because he’s such a control freak.
I mean, he likes control.
That I would show up for.
But like so much of these psychedelic experiences
it feels like is for letting go.
You don’t wanna resist.
That’s supposedly where the growth is
in giving oneself over to the process.
And that’s for people who are like master controllers.
He’s one of the greatest coaches of all time.
It’s fascinating to see what that battle looks like
of resistance and then of letting go.
Yeah, I mean, I can’t wait to see where these studies take us.
Well, it’s clearly happening.
You know, I’ve asked there,
I have a couple of colleagues at Stanford
who are doing animal studies.
I’ve asked around, you know, it’s,
there’s a lot of discussion in the neuroscience community
about what the perception of a laboratory is
if they work on psychedelics.
I mean, I have to tip my hat to the folks at Hopkins.
They are pioneers.
And as Terry Signowski,
he’s a computational neuroscientist down at Salk says,
I don’t think he was the first person to say it.
He says, you know how to spot the pioneers?
They’re the ones with the arrows in their backs.
And you know, it’s an unkind world to a scientist
that’s trying to do really cutting edge stuff.
My colleague, David Spiegel who studies medical hypnosis,
he’s got dozens of studies now showing that hypnosis
can be beneficial for pain management,
anxiety management, cancer outcomes.
And it’s finally, you know,
at the point where there’s so much data,
but people hear hypnosis and they think of stage hypnosis,
which is like the furthest thing from what he’s doing.
And I think mind, body type stuff,
hypnosis, respiration and breathing.
I think the hard science walk into the problem
is always going to be best to get the community on board.
And then it’s up to people like Matt
and to really, you know, take it to the next level.
And as I say, not Keezy out of the game
because Keezy basically was taking too much of his own stuff
and he started dressing crazy of banana hats.
And like, you see him, he had the magic bus.
So, you know, the day I start driving to work
in the magic bus, that’s the day I lose my job.
I’m not into buses or wearing fruit, but.
You’re going to get a phone call from me
and I hope you do the same for me.
It’s like, dude, what are you doing?
Well, what’s interesting earlier,
we were talking about the challenge with David
that you’re about to do.
I mean, that is a psychedelic experience of sorts
because you’re biasing your mind
towards a pretty extreme neurochemical state.
And you don’t know what you’re going to find there.
And that’s kind of the excitement,
at least for me as an observer.
It’s like, I want to know what the experience
is like afterward.
I want to know like, how was it?
I mean, I’m sure you’re going to get something.
Like you said, you’re going to grow.
The question is how.
And not resisting.
I mean, it’s the same as with the psychedelic experience.
It’s like not like giving yourself over completely
to the experience and not resisting
and going through the whole mental journey
of whether it’s anger or excitement or exhaustion,
the whole thing.
That’s, I mean, that’s the entirety of the process
that David goes through when he does his own challenges
and so on is that whole journey.
He finds purposely like missile seeks the limits
of the mind that whenever the resistance is felt,
runs up against it and then goes to the full journey
of going beyond it and seeing what’s there
on the other side.
Well, stress has these two sides,
the limbic friction of being tired
and needing to get more energized.
That’s one form of stress.
And then there’s the feeling too amped up
and needing to calm down.
The typical discussion around stress is one thing,
but it’s all limbic friction.
It’s just that when I say limbic friction,
that’s not a real scientific term.
I just mean the limbic system wanting to pull you down
into sleep or wanting to put you into panic
and you using top down processing,
using that evolved forebrain to say,
I’m not going to go to sleep
and I’m not going to freak out.
And those top down control mechanisms are,
I mean, when those get honed, that’s beautiful
because then you’re increasing capacity for everything.
This month on the podcast,
you’re talking about neuroplasticity.
You mentioned a bunch already.
Is there something you’re looking forward to specifically,
like something maybe you’re fascinated by
that jumps to mind about neuroplasticity,
this fascinating property of the brain?
Yeah, I think that it’s clear
there’s one facet of neuroplasticity
that is very well supported by the research data
that hardly anyone has implemented in the real world.
And that’s the release of acetylcholine from these neurons
in the forebrain called nucleus basalis.
This is mainly the work of Mike Merzenich,
who used to be at UCSF
and some of his scientific offspring,
Greg Reckensown and Michael Kilgard and others.
What they showed was increases in acetylcholine,
this molecule associated with focus,
in concert, meaning at the same time as some event,
motor event or music event or any kind of sensory event,
immediately reorganizes the neocortex
so that there’s a permanent map representation
of that event.
And I absolutely believe that this can be channeled
toward accelerated skill learning.
And my friend and colleague, Eddie Chang,
who’s now the chair of neurosurgery at UCSF,
but also a fine scientist in his own right,
not just a clinician,
he’s doing studies looking at rapid acquisition of language
using these principles.
He trained with Merzenich.
It’s clear we have these gates on plasticity
in the forebrain,
and they are gated by nicotinic acetylcholine transmission.
And why that hasn’t made it into protocols
for motor learning, sport learning, language learning,
music learning, emotional learning, I don’t know.
I think part of the reason has been kind of cultural
is that scientists publish their paper and they move on.
Merzenich talked a lot and still can be found
from time to time talking about
how these plasticity mechanisms can be leveraged.
But he had a commercial company,
and so then people kind of backed away from him a little bit.
I think he was, to be honest,
I think Merzenich was ahead of his time.
And I think the timing is right now
for people to understand these mechanisms of plasticity
and start to implement them.
Also, it all sounds like becoming superhuman
or optimizing or whatever, all that, yes.
But also what about kids with language learning deficits
or with dyslexia or just performance in school in general?
I have a deep, interesting concern
for the future of science and mathematics
and not just in this country, but all over the world.
And more plasticity equals faster, better, deeper learning.
And if we don’t do this,
I don’t think we’re going to get the full reach
out of all the machine learning tools either,
because everyone talks about these huge data sets,
but those huge data sets funnel into human interpretation.
I mean, we don’t just like stare at the numbers and bask.
So the human brain, I think,
needs to leverage these plasticity mechanisms
to keep up with the thing that’s happening very, very fast,
which is technology development.
So that’s a long winded way of saying
basal forebrain, cholinergic transmission and plasticity,
it allows for plasticity in adulthood
and it allows for single trial learning, which is incredible.
But how do we leverage that?
Like in the physical space taking actions
or is there some chemicals that can stimulate neuroplasticity?
I think it’s the intersection of the two.
I think it’s being engaged in a physical practice
while enhancing pharmacology.
And it has to be done safely.
And this is full of open questions.
This is the very beginnings of it, like you’re saying.
Yeah, a pill that’s safe
that increases nicotinic transmission.
I mean, I know a number of people that chew Nicorette.
Actually, I have a Nobel prize winning colleague
at Columbia, not to be named,
who chews like six pieces of Nicorette
in a half hour conversation with him.
And he started doing that as a replacement for smoking
because smoking is nicotine nicotinic stimulation
of the cholinergic system.
So smokers have long known that increases focus
and attention and learning.
It’s just that the lung cancer thing is a barrier.
Now I’m not suggesting people take Nicorette,
but it’s clear that we need better directed pharmacology.
But you can imagine next time you go in
for a learning bout, if it’s really essential,
you might want to stimulate the nicotinic system
if that’s safe for you.
Again, I’m a doctor.
So again, I’m not telling people to do this,
but that’s where it’s going.
Until we start merging machines
with pharmacology and behavior, we’re just kind of walking
around in the circle over and over again,
and it’s going to happen.
Do you find computer vision, machine learning
from the perspective of tooling as an interesting tool
for analyzing, for processing all the data
from the neuroscience world, from the neurobiology,
biology, all the different data sets
that you could have about the mind, the eye,
the everything that’s neck and above,
and also the central nervous system and all?
I think that computer science and engineering
and chemistry, bioengineering, that’s what’s creating
the acceleration and progress in neuroscience right now.
I think it’s actually one place where science,
I’m very reassured, science has invited in psychologists,
computational biologists, at least at Stanford, MIT,
and other places too, of course, it’s clear
that it’s a everyone’s invited kind of party right now.
That the major issue in the field of neuroscience,
at least through my view,
is that there’s no conceptual leadership.
No one is saying we need to work on
and solve this problem or that problem.
It’s very fragmented right now.
Now, the good news is people are communicating.
So computer scientists and people who work on AI,
machine vision are talking to biologists and vice versa,
but it’s very dispersed.
Is there a lot of different data sets in your work
that you’ve just come across?
Is there a huge number of disparate data sets
around neuroscience and so on?
Well, there’s a lot of cell sequencing stuff.
So the Broad over in Boston and then on this coast,
the Chen Zuckerberg Initiative,
they did $3 billion to sequence every cell type
in humans and in animals and I think their goal
is to cure every disease by some date,
I don’t know, in the future.
Huge data sets of gene expression and protein expression,
I think no one really knows how to think
about neural circuits and what is a neural circuit?
Is it one structure?
Is it two structures communicating?
I think this is where I actually think
that the robotics is going to tell us how the brain works
because it’s tempting to think that the brain
has all these cell types and circuits
in order to solve specific problems.
But it might be that the fundamental algorithm
is to create cells and circuits
that can solve variable problems.
We know in the retina, just a very simple example
is that we’ve always heard about like cones
are for color vision and high acuity
and rods are for night vision and non color vision.
But at the dusk, dawn transition,
certain cell types switch to do completely different,
have a completely different function
for viewing starry night
versus what they do during the daytime.
So neurons multiplex.
And I think building machines that can multiplex
and can evolve themselves is going to help us
really understand what the brain is doing.
We need to tease out the fundamental algorithms.
We know they’re like motion detection
and spatial vision and things like that.
I think machines are going to be much faster at that
than our understanding of biology
and how the brain does that.
Basically, I’ll be out of a job
and people like you will have a job.
Well, no, I think the main idea is that
there won’t be a job that’s machine learning
or computer vision.
It’s just, it’s a tool that neuroscientists
will use more and more and more
and biologists would use.
I mean, this whole idea that it will just be a tool
that allows you to start expanding
the kind of things you can study.
Well, the next generation coming up,
I can say this because I now I’m blessed
to have a bioengineering student.
They think about problems so differently than biologists do.
We realized the other day we both came up
with a set of ideas around a certain project
and we realized that her version of it
was the exact opposite of mine.
And hers was far more rational.
It’s just an engineering perspective.
It’s like, why would we do that last?
We should do that first.
I think that the next generation is really interested
in solving practical problems.
So a lot like computer science and engineering was
in the late nineties, it was like,
you can go do a PhD in computer science and engineering,
maybe, or you go work for a company
and actually build stuff that’s useful.
I think neuroscientists and people interested
in neuroscience are starting to think,
how can I build stuff that’s useful?
And this statement is supported by the fact
that many people in my business leave their academic labs,
fortunately not all of them,
but they leave their academic labs
and they go work for companies like Neuralink.
This is something I think we’ve spoken a few times offline
about, I mean, speaking of computer vision,
I’m fascinated by the eye.
I did a bunch of work on the eye.
So there’s the neuroscientists,
there’s a neurobiology way of studying the eye,
and there’s the computer vision way of studying the eye.
And the computer vision way of studying the eye
of just like observing, noncontext sensing of humans
is really fascinating to me
and studying human behavior in different contexts,
like in semi autonomous vehicles,
it seemed like there’s a lot of signal
that comes from the eye, that comes from blinking,
that’s not fully understood yet.
It’s been in the lab, it’s been used quite a bit
to study like the dilation of the pupil,
all those kinds of things are used to infer workload,
cognitive load, all those kinds of things.
But the pictures is murky.
It’s not completely well understood,
especially in the wild, how much signal you can get
from the eye, from the human face.
I’ve downloaded Joe Rogan’s,
all of the podcasts he’s ever done, video.
You have the YouTube bank.
I have the YouTube bank for a reason
that this was before he went with Spotify.
You own the archive.
There’s PubMed, and then there’s the Joe Rogan experience
owned by, or maintained by Lex.
For my private collection.
No, the reason I did it,
and I did a really rigorous processing of it,
which is like I extracted all of the faces,
I did the really good blink track,
the pupil tracking and the blink detection
for the entirety of the,
oh, I should say it’s from episode like,
I forget what it is, but it’s like episode 900
when they switched to 1080p video.
But it was like much crappier video.
It’s still kind of.
Did you log when there was marijuana consumption
or when they were drinking?
I mean, there’s so many.
Because that’s gonna, like just,
it won’t throw off the data,
but it’s relevant to the pupil data.
So let’s just put it this way.
There’s a lot of fascinating
computer vision problems involved,
but I only kept long sequences of data
where the eyes detected exceptionally well.
And I also removed people that were wearing glasses.
I removed, there’s certain people that have a way
of moving their eyes and squinting
where it’s harder to infer like concrete blinks.
They’ll kind of have a squint the whole time.
And their blink is very light.
It’s very tough to know what’s an actual blink.
So I wanted to.
Then you got those baseball cap wearing guys.
There are certain people that go on podcasts
and wear baseball caps and don’t reveal their,
I don’t know if they realize it or not until it comes out,
but their face is completely obscured from vision.
And from a computer vision perspective,
people that wear makeup and usually women on their eyes,
it complicates things.
Like eyelashes all complicate things.
So you can clean stuff up
just so you have really crisp signal.
You don’t have to, you can deal with issues,
but there’s so many hours of Joe Rogan video.
Anyway, I say all that because I was searching
for an interesting personal experiment for me
because I saw in drivers when I was looking
at eye movement in drivers, it seemed to indicate,
there seemed to be quite a lot of signal there
that indicates amount of cognitive load,
but it’s not clear if there’s something conclusive,
but if there is some signal, that’s a really powerful one
because eye movement can be detected in the wild.
Like you and I sitting here,
I can detect eye movement really well.
Pupil dilation is a really crappy indicator.
And it’s luminance dependent.
Like if I turn toward a light, it’s a route.
People change size depending on level of alertness,
arouse autonomic arousal,
but also overall levels of luminance.
It’s very, very hard, but there are,
I mean, you’re sitting on a gold mine
because there is a lot of interest right now
in measuring state through noncontact sensing.
Heart rate variability through changes in skin tone,
just off a camera.
Can you imagine that at the point where
you just look at some video and you’re like,
oh, they’re getting more stressed or worked up
and they’re not based on a heat map
of some little patch on their face.
Cause everyone’s going to have this slight,
sort of compartmentalize it slightly differently,
but you can learn it pretty quickly.
We know this when someone’s like giving a talk
and we see them starting to blotching on their neck.
This is like the thesis defense response, right?
We know it and it’s a stressful situation
because not passing your thesis defense is rough.
And we can see that,
but cameras can pick that up really easily
at much lower levels than the blatant blotching
kind of effect.
And eye movements certainly are powerful indications
of the state of the autonomic system.
So do you think there are things from a high level
that you can pick up from eye movement and blinking?
Well, blink frequency is going to increase
as people get tired, right?
I’ve actually been teased a lot online
cause I don’t blink much when I’ll do a post.
And so I did a whole post about blinking,
about the science of blinking.
There’s some data, very strong data, not from my lab
that show that every time you blink,
it resets your perception of time.
They have people do these kind of track
a kind of a Doppler like thing.
And anyway, blinking resets your perception of time.
There’s a dopaminergic mechanism
in the blink related circuitry of the brain.
When people are very alert,
they tend to not blink very much.
When we’re sleepy, we tend to blink more
and our eyes tend to close.
Now, some people are more hooded
in the way their eyes sit.
Some people are like this all the time.
There are some very famous people.
I’m not gonna name them
because I might run into them at some point
who were like accused of being sociopaths
cause they don’t blink very often.
But they might just have high levels of autonomic arousal.
They just don’t blink very much.
Also depends on how lubricated the eyes are.
So I think within individual,
you can get a lot of information.
I don’t think we can say this person’s blinking a lot.
They’re lying, this person or they’re tired.
This person doesn’t blink, they’re stressed.
I think if you understand that person’s baseline,
you can get it.
And presumably, well, having been
on the Joe Rogan Experience,
I can say when you first sit down there,
if you’ve never been in there before.
You’re in my data set by the way.
Well, I bet you I will admit to being,
first time sitting down there.
I mean, Joe was incredibly gracious,
made me feel very comfortable there.
But yeah, it’s an intense experience.
It’s a small space too.
Anytime you enter a small space from a big space
in his old studio, you’re familiar with,
there’s a breaking in period
where you’re getting to know somebody.
And so I’m sure my levels of autonomic arousal
front of the podcast were higher than later.
But once you have a baseline established,
you can get a lot of data on somebody simply from blinks.
Some people averting gaze too.
If you have both people, that’s really powerful.
This is the holy grail, another holy grail of neuroscience.
We’ve mainly looked at subjects in isolation.
There hasn’t been much brain imaging
of two people interacting
or even in animal models of two mice
or two monkeys interacting.
It’s all like person scanner, bite bar.
I mean, if you’ve ever been in one of these scanners,
you’re like in a bite bar.
It’s very medieval.
And so you think in the interaction,
there’s actually, you can almost study them
as a single brain or as a single system.
The two brains are a single system.
I think with AI.
Yeah, maybe are your blinks triggering my blinks?
Are your non blink epochs extending my non blink epochs?
There’s a fascinating space to explore there
and no one’s done it.
And because everyone let the Joe Rogan experience archive
disappear, except for you.
You grabbed, did you get the comments too?
Because I think the comments were almost as entertaining
as the conversation.
You know what you just made me realize with the couplings,
I have a better data set than the Joe Rogan podcast
with high resolution video,
which is the raw video for this podcast.
So for example, both cameras right now are recording
you and I full feed.
The final result will switch cameras back and forth,
but I have the full feed.
So I can have the blinking for both you and I
the whole time.
I bet you people trigger blinks and in one another,
you know, and there’s also like the simplest way
to think about the blinks and the attentional thing
and the alertness is two fighters in the standoff.
There’s this whole lore around who blinks first.
It’s like they blink first.
Well, what are we really asking?
They’re asking whether or not one person can maintain focus
longer than the other person,
which is an important parameter.
It’s not the only parameter,
but it’s an important parameter.
And so that blinking contest,
even though they don’t square off as a blinking contest,
it’s well known that the first to blink
is revealing something about their capacity
to hold attention.
You’ve started an amazing podcast
that we’ve mentioned a few times.
People should definitely check it out.
It’s called the Huberman Lab Podcast.
It does your, it’s basically,
it embodies the personality of Andrew Huberman,
which is like make science accessible,
but also fascinating and giving it,
like what do you call it?
You give tools for everyday life,
meaning it kind of grounds it like,
what the hell does this mean for my life?
But then also does the beauty of science at the same time.
So I love both the rigor and the openness
of the whole thing,
plus the whole corrections things that we mentioned.
Anyway, what’s been the hardest part of this whole process?
You’re one of, already one of the only,
and one of the best science broadcasters out there.
So in that process, what’s been the hardest,
what’s been the most exciting part?
Wow, well, first of all,
thanks for the kind words about the podcast.
It was inspired by you.
I absolutely, that’s no BS.
The last time we met to do an interview for your podcast,
we talked a little bit about it
and you gave me the subtle nudge
that maybe there was a podcast there
and I thought about it and I laughed
and I was just like, I gotta do this thing.
And you really gave me the encouragement to do it.
And your podcast, this podcast has really forged the way.
You’ve been tip of the spear on serious scientific,
intellectual, yet fun, accessible conversation.
And so I, as your colleague and friend,
but just even if those things weren’t true,
like this podcast was and is the inspiration.
There’s no question.
Thank you so much.
Yeah, I really, like 100%.
And when I decided to do the podcast,
the Huberman Lab Podcast,
I thought really long and hard about what would work best
and would be most beneficial.
It turned out to be the hardest thing,
which is to stay on a single topic
for three or four or more episodes
before switching to a new topic.
Because I know from the experience of university
and teaching in university, as you know as well,
that there’s always the temptation
to pivot to something else,
but the drilling into something really deeply
is where the gems reside.
And the challenge has been how to make it interesting,
how to keep people on board,
how to give people tools along the way,
but also stay close to the scientific data.
I like to think that we’re headed in the right direction.
It still needs to evolve, but that’s been a challenge.
I think I also am challenged by the fact
that there’s a tremendous range of backgrounds of listeners.
So some people have asked for more names,
like more bits and parts of the nervous system
and cellular molecular mechanisms
and all that kind of thing.
And other people have said,
I don’t understand any of that stuff,
but I think I’m keeping up.
And so unlike a university course
where there are prerequisites
and everyone’s coming to the table
with more or less the same knowledge,
I have a very limited sense of what the audience knows
and doesn’t know.
So that’s why I incorporated the feature
of the comment section on YouTube,
being a source of feedback.
And I do kind of an office hours like episode
every third or fourth episode
where I address common questions.
And I think that the podcast space in my mind,
at least for the sort of podcasts I’m doing,
needed a venue for the listeners
to be a more integral part of the experience
as opposed to just commenting
on what they liked or didn’t like.
So while I like to hear what people liked and didn’t like,
I also really like to hear about,
hey, tell me more about temperature minimums
and how they can be used to phase shifts
or cadient rhythms or whatever it is.
And I realized that I’m probably losing
some people along the way,
but hopefully at the end of each month,
and because of the way that the episodes are archived,
people will come away feeling as if they’ve learned a ton
and they have tools that they can implement.
And perhaps most importantly,
that they’re starting to think scientifically
about the tons of other stuff that’s out there.
So that’s been the challenge and it’s still really early
days, but, and of course,
there’s also an intentional challenge.
I realize that people are busy.
Not everyone has two hours to listen to a podcast
about jet lag and shift work and raising kids
and sleep and that kind of thing.
I’m not raising kids,
but I did a whole thing about babies and sleep with,
you know, and how parents can manage their sleep
when kids aren’t sleeping.
So it’s been, I’m hacking through the jungle
of all this stuff, but, and I’ll come right back to it.
My inspiration and my North star on this is getting
to a point where the audience that listens to this feels
the same way that I do when I listen to your podcast.
Thank you so much.
Like when I turn into your podcast,
I’m going to embarrass you a little bit more
by complimenting you a little bit more,
but not out of a sadistic thing,
but just because when I tune into your podcast
or Joe’s podcast, I have the same sensation
that other people have.
Like, I feel like I’m home of sorts.
I’m like, I’m familiar with the space
and I’d like people to feel comfortable in the space
that is the Huber and Lab Podcast,
whatever that ends up being.
Yeah, that’s the magic of podcasting.
It’s like, I feel like I’m part of your life now
in a way that, as a fan, that I wouldn’t be otherwise.
And, you know, like I never was able to have that
with Carl Sagan, for example, you know?
And that’s a whole nother level of connection
with a human being that gets you excited.
And then I share your excitement
about different topics in neuroscience
or just biology in general.
And then I don’t have to actually understand
everything you’re saying to really enjoy it.
So that’s the magic of podcasting is like,
you can go through like 10 minutes
and not understanding what the hell a person is saying,
and then you enjoy the excitement
and then you reconnect to a thing
that you do understand what they’re saying.
And, you know, that’s, that personal coupled
with the scientific rigor is magic.
And finding the right, it’s exploration.
Like Joe found something that works for comedians,
which is like, you know, having a good laugh,
but also every once in a while talking seriously
about difficult topics.
The scientific space, it was unclear.
You haven’t had guests on.
Not yet, but maybe you’ll come on as our first guest.
I was gonna invite my,
I was gonna try to force myself in there.
I am, I’m officially inviting you now.
Will you come on the podcast?
I would love to, I would love to.
But it was hard.
It’s still a little bit difficult to tell people
that no, you don’t get it.
We’re not gonna talk for 10 minutes.
We’re gonna talk for three or four hours.
It’s a different, for scientists,
for like, they’re like, what are we gonna talk about?
They think it’s like the NPR interview.
And they don’t realize, first of all,
I think at his best, if you’re like at the level
of Joe Rogan, who I think is an excellent conversationalist,
you just lose track of time.
It can be three, four, five hours
and you lose track of time.
I’m still not there.
I find that it’s still painful.
Like the conversation is still challenging sometimes.
You don’t lose quite as much of track of time.
It’s still an intellectual effort.
And I think it might always be as it would be with you
because you’re talking about difficult topics,
maybe that require more brain.
You’re not just shooting the shit with like a Brian Red Band
or somebody like comedians or just joking.
What’s like, remember those shows,
like where those shows where someone would come out
and like spin plates and they’re running back and forth.
Really good scientific discussion is like that.
You have to be maintaining three or four
different logical arguments and jumping back and forth.
It’s occasionally get into like a real streak of linearity.
But as we found today that typically there’s three
or four different things that we’re bouncing back
and forth from.
And that requires a lot of updating of these,
you know, forebrain circuits.
It’s not a passive listening experience.
But I like to think that the brain likes that.
I do want to ask just cause we all,
I don’t want to forget the question came up to me
is your podcast has the same kind of rigor
that I think like a Dan Carlin podcast has
who’s a history podcaster.
Well, that’s a definitely a compliment.
Dan’s way, you know, he’s something for me to aspire to.
He goes through hell to prepare.
He spends months preparing.
It feels like you’ve had to really prepare for your podcast.
I definitely prepare hard.
How does that?
Are you okay?
I mean, how much effort does that take?
It feels like a conference presentation.
So we record once a week and in the intervening time,
I listened to many university level lectures.
So NIH has a bank of lectures.
I have some sources of recorded university seminars.
I’m trying to find the points of intersection.
So like for four episodes on sleep,
it’s not like I’m going to just regurgitate a popular book
or take one lecture and just poach the content.
I’m going to find the overlap in the different elements.
I also, so what I’ll do is I’ll generally read 10
or 15 papers and generally those are good reviews,
annual reviews, any review of neuroscience,
annual review of physiology, those kinds of things.
I’ll chase a few references.
I’ll listen to some YouTube videos,
but of university level lectures.
And then I throw all that on a whiteboard.
Usually while I work out in the morning,
I’ll just be working out.
I have a gym in my house
and I’ll just put up all these random ideas.
I want to cover that dreams, hallucination.
And then I take that and I start to eliminate,
I draw lines between the common points of intersection.
And then from that, I distill out an outline.
And then I basically think about what I want to say
on my walks with my dog.
And I bother a couple of people and blab to them.
So I would say each podcast, yeah,
I put in 10 to 15 hours at least
of passive listening preparation
and maybe five or six of active preparation.
So I do prepare quite a lot,
but it has a certain reward component for me.
To come up at the end with something
that’s somewhat crystallized for me is just so satisfying.
It feel like there’s something about my dopamine circuits
that just love that.
And the only pain is that a year later
after I’ve talked about the stuff a bunch of times,
it’s so much more succinct, but that’s life.
At some point you got to pull the trigger.
Well, I don’t know what you think,
but for me, YouTube is,
that’s why I’m sad that Joe left YouTube.
There’s a archival nature to YouTube that’s kind of magical.
And so I’m really glad you’re now,
you’re doing a lot of educational content on Instagram
and Instagram before,
but now I’m doing this podcasting on YouTube.
It’s like, you know, it’s like Feynman lectures.
Like, I’m not saying every podcast,
but there will be, you will have some,
I could already tell there’ll be some lectures
which are like definitive, like really special ones.
That’s the hope.
And there’s some aspect that’s archival to YouTube
where at least I hope like 20 years from now,
some kid is gonna watch a lecture of yours
and it’ll create the next Nobel prize, right?
It’ll create another dream that then becomes a reality.
And then that’s a special thing that YouTube provides.
So I’m really excited that you’re on YouTube.
And at the same time,
I’m excited to see where this thing goes
because it seems like change is the cliche thing,
that change is the only constant in these times
because you’re paving with this podcast,
with this creativity, what you were doing on Instagram
as well, you’re paving the new era
of what it means to do science.
So actively doing research
and actively explaining that research in new media.
It’s very interesting to see.
I’m genuinely inspired by you.
We had this discussion last time
after the podcast recording,
and it’s clear that communication of science
cannot be left to the existing institutions.
And I’m not talking about universities.
I just mean that the science section of newspapers is,
sometimes there’s some gems there,
but generally it goes, you know?
And I think you really have to know a field
in order to extract the best things from that field.
And my hope is that other practicing scientists
and people finishing their PhD and postdoc
and people who are running labs or working at companies
will start to do this.
I mean, how amazing would it be, for instance,
if someone at Neuralink was giving us hints
about not necessarily what they’re developing
because that’s complicated for all sorts of reasons,
but would talk to us about what the real challenges
of building futuristic brain machine interface are like
and what it means to understand a clinical problem
and address it.
I mean, my hope is somebody there might eventually do that,
that somebody in the world of chemistry
or synthetic materials or whatever it is
will do this in a way that I could understand
because I don’t have expertise in those.
I think it would be marvelous.
And you were tip of the spear, you were out first,
and I’m just happily trying to move along
in the direction I’m going.
But I think the future of science education is online.
And I think that’s gonna be scary
to a lot of existing institutions,
but it’s not about disrupting anything.
It’s just about trying to do things better.
Yeah, some of the best interviews,
some of the best investigative journalism
is done by people inside the field.
Comes to mind a guy by the name of Elon Musk,
who I love the possibility that he gets a Pulitzer
for that interview.
But he grilled the crap out of Vlad,
the CEO of Robinhood.
I’m not sure if you’re familiar.
Oh, on Clubhouse the other night.
Yeah, I saw you guys in there.
I was kept out, I wasn’t quick enough.
My thumbs don’t go fast enough.
So I was, and I wasn’t about to sit in the waiting room.
Have you tried that social network,
by the way, the Clubhouse?
I’ve gone in there a few times and checked some things out.
I’m there, I have a few questions about it
that like if I’m in there,
how one can participate or not participate.
I like being a fly on the wall for those conversations.
I’ve been very curious as to what’s going on in there.
Oh, it’s quite, I mean, I have a lot of thoughts.
Maybe it’s useful to comment.
I also have a Discord server
that has a few tens of thousands of people on it.
And then they have also a voice chat capability.
So there’s these get togethers.
And I was using it in the spring and summer,
like actively on those voice discussions.
And it’s anywhere from 10 to like 1,000 people
all together in voice.
Like anyone can speak anytime, right?
But there’s this weird dynamic that people stay quiet.
Only one person speaks at a time
because they’re all like respectful.
And it’s a community of like fundamentally
respectful people, even though they’re all anonymous.
So like, except like me and a few others,
it’s all anonymous people.
It’s so interesting and it works.
But the magical thing to me about that community
was how intimate voice only communication can be.
It felt as intimate as like a small get together
at a home with close friends.
It felt like there’s a calmness to it.
And you’re revealing things about, you know,
somebody suffering from depression or being suicidal.
So those are the dark things or being super excited,
getting a new girlfriend or boyfriend.
Like just the depth of human experience shared on voice
without video is, I was really surprised
how intimate that is for human connection,
especially in this time of COVID, it replaced that.
So just to give you some context, there’s something there.
There’s definitely something there.
One thing that comes to mind is when like in Clubhouse,
you have your little icon.
So they don’t actually, you don’t see your face moving.
I think when people see their own image,
it puts them in a state of self consciousness
that is eliminated by just having an icon or an avatar.
So like Zoom is dreadful because if I’m not used
to talking to people and seeing a little image of myself
staring back at me in the mirror.
And it’s just, I know there are ways
that you can adjust that, but it’s really awful.
And I think that when I get on Zooms now,
I say hello and then I shut down the video component.
And then I just talk in the end.
I come back on just to show that still there, it’s still me.
But I think that voice only is really interesting.
Eddie Chang would be an interesting person
to talk to about this because he understands so much
about how inflection communicates
emotionality in deeper state.
But there’s a balance between, I think,
just like you said, this is the privacy
somehow allows for the intimacy.
So like being able to, as opposed to putting on an act,
which I realize we do when we’re visually
presenting ourselves in remote communication.
But I think that there’s so few places
where people can actually communicate
without the fear of penalty.
That’s woefully absent these days.
And so maybe people are just relieved to be in a place
where they feel like I can say what I want
or not say anything and it’s okay.
And so Clubhouse, to answer your kind of question is,
there was a big improvement to me over Discord,
which is it has tiers, it has a stage where people,
the person that created the room can invite people up
that would like to speak potentially,
have the opportunity to speak.
And then there’s a bigger audience
that don’t get a chance to speak unless they
click raise their hand and they get called on.
So there’s like a tier system that allows
for there to be a group of like five, 10, 20, 30 people
talking and a lot larger amount in the audience,
which in Discord was the problems that everybody could talk.
And the other thing about Clubhouse is everybody
is strongly encouraged to represent themselves.
So you’re using your real name, it’s not anonymous.
And how many people were in that GameStop discussion
the other day?
They currently limit rooms to 5,000.
So I’m sure maxed out at 5,000.
There’s a lot of overflow rooms.
This is the cool thing about Clubhouse,
really big people were on there all tuned in
and having a conversation, having all from,
all these different worlds being able to connect,
even though without the niceties of like arranging
the meeting, you could just show up and leave,
which is really nice.
But the reason for my lessons from Discord,
I’m going to mostly stay away from Clubhouse.
And I think.
Or go in there under another name.
I’ll pretend I know the actual, your actual name.
Yeah, it’s, I’ve learned, it’s quite addicting.
It’s a time sink.
It’s so, the intimacy of it is you find yourself
wasting quite a bit of time on there.
It pulls you in.
Well, it’s interesting.
They would in sort of going back to the podcast
or earlier, we’re talking about books
or creating a technology.
One thing that’s absolutely clear is that anything
that’s easy to reproduce is probably not worth
much effort and time.
I mean, most posts could be easily reproduced.
You just repost them.
So now there are some original posts that for which
the attribution goes to the original person
and it’s clear it came from you.
But anything that can be easily reproduced is,
doesn’t really expand us very much as individuals
or as groups.
And most of what I see on social media is stuff
that is purely reproduced.
But I think Clubhouse, I mean, it could be
that some real magic emerges on there.
So in moderation could be good.
The magic is, this is another thing that I’ve found
through COVID that maybe you can think about is live.
I used to be, not understand the appeal of live video
or live connection or like in this Clubhouse live events.
Because Clubhouse is technically, for the most part,
it’s not supposed to be recorded.
Most people don’t record most conversations.
It’s a one time live event.
And there’s a magic to that.
That’s not captured by like your podcast
or my podcast produced video that’s like recorded,
like packaged up.
Well, anything can happen.
It’s that anything can happen.
And that’s the kind of thing like live concerts.
I definitely, I love live music.
And it’s the idea that,
cause you can always listen to the album.
Actually the album usually sounds cleaner and better,
but it’s just this idea that anything can happen.
And then you listen to like the parts, I don’t know,
you like a Costello did something weird.
Your dog did something weird.
And then you have to go, God damn it.
You have to go to the kitchen or something to get something.
And then you come back and it’s funny.
I watched live video like that of people
and I’ll be there for the whole time.
I’ll wait for them to go to the kitchen and come back.
It’s not like I tune out.
And that makes it like a richer experience for some reason.
Well, it humanizes it.
Yeah, humanizes it.
And I think there is this weird effect of whether or not
it’s a podcast, Instagram or Twitter or anything else.
There’s kind of like two people shouting into a tunnel
and then a bunch of people with ears at the other end
of those tunnels and shouting some things back.
You know, that’s kind of the format we’re in.
I think I’ll check out Clubhouse again.
I’ve gone in there a few times during the day
and I was surprised to see how many people were in there
in the middle of the day.
I was like, aren’t these people supposed to be working?
But maybe that is their work.
Well, be very careful about the time sink of it.
But yeah, if you want to, you and I go together,
we’ll have a conversation on there.
But one of the things you have to figure out,
I don’t still know how to do it, but how to exit.
Which is like.
And you just do the, isn’t there the leave quietly button?
Yeah, no, but like when you and I are on stage
having a conversation, okay, you and I is harder.
But like you really, if it’s just you and I,
then it’s the usual human communication of like,
all right, I gotta go.
Like, but when it’s like four people,
you don’t want to interrupt everyone
and announce you’re leaving.
You just have to, I mean, there’s a weird dynamic
that I haven’t quite figured out of.
The etiquette isn’t clear.
The etiquette is not clear.
Well, the etiquette on different platforms
and how that changes is really interesting.
You know, how YouTube has one etiquette,
which is kind of, it’s a lot of harshness is tolerated
on YouTube video comments.
Twitter seems a bit harsher than Instagram.
Instagram, there’s kind of, it seems to be a little.
People are nice.
People are really nice.
People are really nice on Instagram for the most part,
except for those phishing things.
I actually know someone who had their quite sizable account
poached by those copyright.
They come in with those like,
you violated copyright thing.
There’s all sorts of harshness in there
that if you think about it in the real world,
I like to think about Instagram as if it was the real world.
Someone comes over and is basically saying like,
hey, can I hold your wallet and go into the bank
and I’ll get some money out for you?
And like, but there’s this trust
based on the format it comes in
that it can almost get past your radar
unless you’re suspicious.
If you took comments, like, you know,
you’re posting a lot of comments and you said,
you just walk past 500 random people on the street
and just listen to what they say,
it’s like, that’s ridiculous.
I don’t have time for that.
But the comments somehow take on this importance
and this relevance.
And you feel, we feel obligated to give them value, right?
And so the online communities,
the rules really are different.
And they evolve with time, which is fascinating.
With Clubhouse, it’s a new social network,
so it’s evolving and people are figuring it out as you go.
And the same thing with podcasting on video
and like scientific podcasting.
This is the cool thing when I look at what you’ve created,
I’m learning, I’m thinking like,
hmm, that’s interesting to do it this way.
Because like, I have nobody to copy.
Not many people to copy, you know what I mean?
Well, you threw out an idea.
I’m not gonna put it out here now,
cause I don’t wanna,
cause knowing you, you’ll hold yourself to it
no matter what.
But when we talked about this issue of the challenge
of staying on a particular topic for a while,
I mean, you do have some cool stuff brewing in there.
Oh, no, no, no.
That’s separate from this format.
And I love your interview format,
but when you told me about that,
I got really excited that you might go forward.
I’m not gonna tell your audience what it is,
but I will say this, it is super cool.
I would have never thought about it.
It’s distinctly different than what I’m doing
or what Lex is currently doing.
And if you decide to do that podcast,
I will be your first and your number one fan.
And I know there are gonna be millions of other people
interested in that.
It would be amazing.
So if you decide to go forward with the idea,
that would be awesome.
I was gonna say what it is,
but now I’m not going to because,
cause that’s even more interesting.
I brought up the clubhouse thing actually in Elon,
because I just wanted to get your thoughts
about something he’s said a few times to me and in general,
is that he’s under a huge amount of stress.
And I’m thinking of doing a startup now
and kind of thinking about all of this.
Cause I enjoy podcasts, I enjoy science,
but he says that his life is basically hell.
It’s very difficult.
He looks happy, but he’s probably very good at.
He’s fulfilled, but the stress levels,
the constant fires that he has to put out.
And he says that most people wouldn’t want to be me.
And that basically the reason he does what he does
is because there’s probably something wrong with him.
Like it’s not, he can’t help it, but do that.
Kind of beautiful in a kind of Russian masochistic way.
Well, I just wonder the stress.
I mean, I’m sure you can imagine the kind of stress
he’s under because, so it’s running three plus companies
and there’s constant, he says that every single meeting
is not about like, should we install a coffee maker
in the kitchen?
It’s like, this rocket is going to blow up
and we’re all fucked.
I don’t know what to do.
And we have to, you have to fix,
you have to fix real like big problems there.
And like, how do you deal with that?
What do you think about that kind of life?
One, is there a way to walk through that fire?
And two, should you walk through that fire?
Well, I mean, without knowing I’ve never met Elon,
but certainly we have common friends in you
and in other people that he worked with long ago
in the PayPal days, all of whom speak very highly of him
and show, express immense admiration
for the number of things that he can maintain.
I think it’s fair to say that he accomplishes more
before 9 a.m. than most people do in a decade.
And that what he does would dissolve most people
into a puddle of tears.
Mostly because of this whole thing
about the brain working hard equates
to thinking about duration path and outcome
and anticipating outcomes given A, B, C, or D,
a lot of very scripted linear thinking and prediction.
And that is hard, it’s stressful.
It requires intense neurochemical output.
And he’s doing that for multiple projects.
So presumably he’s buffered himself
from the coffee maker issues and the little tiny issues,
but he is himself, unless there’s something I don’t know,
he’s walking around in a biological system.
Yes, allegedly, yes.
So, and I don’t wanna reveal too much here,
but I have a common coworker and colleague
through some contract work I do that what I can tell you
is that he’s accessing the best resources
in terms of how to optimize his biology.
And he’s thinking about that, not just for himself,
but for all of Neuralink.
Because I think, I’m not trying to dodge the question,
but I think there’s the scale of the individual,
but then there’s the companies that he’s creating.
And you’ve got people there that you could imagine
if they’re working at 10% better capacity
or can focus 5% better for 20% of the day,
you’re looking at a enormous increase in productivity
and a reduction in the time to reach goals,
which will reduce the amount of stress presumably on Elon,
unless he goes and starts another endeavor.
So I think it’s certainly not healthy for most people.
It seems to be where he gets his dopamine hits.
I’m also really struck by the fact that he has a family
and he’s got kids growing up and a relationship
and all that, so it’s super impressive.
I think that, I don’t know, how old is Elon?
He’s 40, I mean, pushing 50, I think 48.
Even more impressive.
Because many people who’ve been at exceedingly high output
for a decade or more don’t do well.
Their system breaks down.
Well, this is what he was saying.
Actually, I mean, I don’t listen to all of his interviews,
but on that live on the clubhouse,
he mentioned that he was kind of worried,
it’s interesting, he was worried that sometimes,
what I think he said is,
I’m worried that at some point my brain is just going to fail
because of the amount of load it’s under,
like how much I have to think through throughout the day,
like how many problems you have to think through.
Like, it’s like puzzles, it’s constant puzzle solving.
I would be concerned about taking somebody
who’s in that regime and suddenly putting them
into a regime where they don’t have enough
to bite down into.
It’s like my bulldog, Costello,
he’s happiest when chewing and tugging
at that big old neck of his,
and he is just not going to become a retriever,
he’s not going to, he does well
and gets his dopamine hits from chewing and pulling.
And it seems like Elon has ended up where he is
by way of his natural leanings.
Unless there’s a backstory that’s trauma based or something,
and I don’t even begin to think that there is,
it seems that he has,
he’s one of those rare individuals in history
that has an immense drive to create
in all these different domains.
I’m just saying the obvious here,
but it seems like that’s what makes him tick.
I mean, you’re doing an awful lot too.
Well, the problem is not really,
the problem is I’ve been on the verge
of pulling the trigger on starting a company,
which will increase the workload significantly.
And I’m attracted to that because of a dream I have,
but it’s a little bit scary
because it can destroy you in a lot of ways.
There’s two sources of destruction.
So one source is,
I’ve, for the first time in my life,
a few months ago, I think,
have gotten, this feels like such a noob thing to say it,
but I’ve gotten some hate on the internet.
I know, right?
But like, I am such an idiot.
I’m so naive to, it was,
I had the question that I guess a lot of people have
when they get hate on the internet.
It’s like, mom, why are these people
making up stuff about me?
That kind of feeling of like, why are you saying that?
And the reason I mentioned that is like,
well, if you wanna go and start a business
and do, as I think people should
when they start a big, ambitious business,
really try to go big.
Like, what does success look like
in terms of your emotional journey?
You’re going to have a lot of people
who make up stuff about you,
who say negative things.
I mean, majority, hopefully, if you do a good job,
will be supportive and,
but there’s still going to be this army of people there.
And like, that was scary to me
because of how much emotional impact that had on me.
Well, and I also know a little bit,
I have some glimpse into the fact
that you put your heart and soul into everything you do.
You’re not a, you’re lighthearted about certain things,
but you’re even lighthearted
about being full gas pedal 24 seven.
There’s kind of this,
Laird Hamilton always says,
the big wave surfers, he always says,
bright light, dark shadow.
And I think it’s that intensity.
And when you do that,
and then suddenly people are starting to like,
throw some paint on your picture,
you’re like, wait, hold on, you know,
you’re going max capacity.
But I think the company is interesting one
because you’ve talked about doing this company before.
I’ve been afraid.
I just not been pulling the trigger out of fear
because I enjoy this life.
This is, it’s starting to interrupt.
It’s ultimately this question of taking a leap is like,
say you’re in academia, it’s like you’re at MIT,
you’re, I really love doing research at MIT.
I really love that life.
Why take a leap out?
You know, but I did because it’s been a dream,
but now accidentally along the way,
I found this podcasting thing,
which is also really fulfilling.
And you know, it’s like, why take a leap?
Cause you have a huge lust for life.
I mean, that’s you.
I mean, sometimes when I’m on the internet
and I think, is this, you hear about it like,
oh, it’s addicting, you know, YouTube’s addicting all that.
Actually, sometimes I think maybe that’s true,
but a lot of times I just think there’s so much here.
There’s a lot of garbage,
but there’s so many gems out there in the world now.
It’s almost like, sure how you allocate time is key,
but I think you can do it all.
Not, maybe not five more things, but all.
And one thing, I just had this idea
and this is not grounded in any scientific paper,
but I think the answer might come to you
during this torture that you’re about to get yourself
through with David, because in those mental states,
you’re really asking the question, right?
You’re asking the question, where is my capacity?
And am I even close to my capacity?
And if I am, what’s of the most value?
I think we find the answers to those things
in those nonverbal, nonanalytic states.
It just comes to us.
I hope you’re right, and I hope it’s a profoundly
fulfilling experience as opposed to one
that leads to my demise, but.
You have a will, right?
It all goes to the hedgehog.
Yeah, exactly, to the hedgehog.
Now it all makes sense.
Andrew, like we talked about offline and on this podcast,
I do hope we write some stuff together,
do some research together.
You’re one of the most inspiring scientists,
speaking of communicating to the world.
So I can’t wait to see what you do with the podcast.
I’m already a huge fan.
I’ve been telling everybody about it.
I can’t wait to see you talk to Joe as well soon.
And I can’t wait to see what kind of paper
we write together.
Thanks so much for talking to me.
Thank you, that project’s gonna be a lot of fun.
Can’t wait, and thanks again for having me on.
Appreciate you, brother.
Thanks for listening to this conversation
with Andrew Huberman, and thank you to our sponsors,
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