Podcast Notes: Huberman Lab Dopomine

Huberman Lab: Controlling Your Dopamine For Motivation, Focus & Satisfaction

Dopamine (DA, a contraction of 3,4-dihydroxyphenethylamine) is a neuromodulatory molecule that plays several important roles in cells. Dopamine is the substance that curculating in your system, it is responsible for motivation, craving thing, and also for time perception. The depletion of dopamine will lead to diseases, for example, Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative condition causing tremor and motor impairment, is caused by a loss of dopamine-secreting neurons in an area of the midbrain called the substantia nigra. Tonic and Phasic refers to the low and peaks level of your dopamin baseline.

Two main circuits for dopamine

  • The mesolimbic pathway: sometimes referred to as the reward pathway, is a dopaminergic pathway in the brain. The pathway connects the ventral tegmental area in the midbrain to the ventral striatum of the basal ganglia in the forebrain. The ventral striatum includes the nucleus accumbens and the olfactory tubercle. The release of dopamine from the mesolimbic pathway into the nucleus accumbens regulates incentive salience (e.g. motivation and desire for rewarding stimuli) and facilitates reinforcement and reward-related motor function learning.
  • The nigrostriatal pathway is a bilateral dopaminergic pathway in the brain that connects the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) in the midbrain with the dorsal striatum (i.e., the caudate nucleus and putamen) in the forebrain. This is the path that generates movements.

How dopamine communicate?

There are two ways for dopamine to communicate, one is what we called local synapse release, basically it is a way where 2 neurons are communicating through the electric signal. And the other is a broader way, the volumetric release, this is like a broader way to release high density or much more neurons at the same time (Because dopamine is a neuron neuromodulator).

We all have our own baseline to feel happy and pleasure, if you are taking drug, the kind of pleasure will instantly leads you the a very peak of dopamine, of course higher than your baseline, but if you’re experiencing this type of peak pleasure in a long period of time, your baseline will be higher too. It is very intuitive because you won’t be happier like when you’re kid when you received candies. Therefore controlling relativity gap between your baseline and peak is important.

Dopamine hit

Your behaviour can somehow depict your dopamine state, if you have no motivation to do things, you’re in a low dopamine state, when you try your first skydive and you feel scared or you are about to do a public speaking, you’re in a high dopamine state. And every time you enter into the high dopamine state, or you have a dopamine difference compared to the last state, you’re experiencing a dopamine hit, this could be when you eat a chocolate, you’re scrolling Instagram or Tiktok. But when you repeated engaged in things you are doing, your dopamine threshold hold will be higher.

Parkingson and Drugs

Andrew talked about a story about some young people who were addicted to heroine trying to get some drug called MPPP but mistakenly bought MPTP somewhere in california, what ended up is that the they couldn’t speak and have no movement to do things. It turns out the MPTP kills the nigrostriatal pathway where it generates the movement.

Control dopamine peaks & baseline

All people have different levels of dopamine baseline because of several reasons. (e.g. Gene) Dopamine and epinephrine (aka adrenaline) are cousins. The release of epinephrine depends on the release of dopamine

The list of things that affect your baseline:

  • Chocolate: increase 1.5 higher times of your dopamine, but transient.
  • Sex: increase 2 times higher of your dopamine baseline. transient.
  • Nicotine: 2.5 times higher of your dopamine baseline. Very short-lived.
  • Cocane: 2.2 times of your higher dopamine
  • Amphetamine: 10 times of your baseline.
  • Exercise (Running): 2 times in general, for people who don’t like, maybe no or less dopamine.
  • caffeine: Pretty modest amount of increase in dopamine. But interesting fact is that caffeine increase the number of receptors when you release your dopamine. (Means the effect/performance will be better when you’re releasing dopamine)

Dopamine Setpoint

Dopamine is the universal currency of all the mammals, this substance allows us seeking, motivating us to do things. But counter intuitively is that when you reach the peak of your dopamine, after a while, you might feel low, it is because your dopamine drop to the lower level than before. An example is that postpartum depression aka PPD, when you had a greater reward, after that your dopamine will be back to a lower level. Same as when you finished your graduation or a long trip, you might experience sometime of de-motivation or ‘depression’. It always takes some time for the dopamine to come back to stability from the ‘setpoint’.

And one thing to keep in mind is that you only have certain amount of dopamine what we called pool of dopamine and only those are in readily releasable pool that could be ‘deployed’ or say released in a certain amount of time.

Another thing is that for those ‘play hard and party hard’ type of person, they could do multi-tasking and feel energetic through the week, at some point, they will experience the low level of dopamine in there lives, which is not caused by aging or slow metabolism, it is because for all of the ‘hard’ mode things in their life, it all consumes dopamine and it might all reach to a peak to some extends, and gradually, the baseline of your dopamine will drop. Then you will feel much harder to feel pleasure of doing things as before.

Ensure the Best Evoking Dopamine Release

How do we maintain a good level of our dopamine baseline while reaching our peaks? The key thing is not to a expect or chase high levels of dopamine release every time we’re engaging in certain things. What you need is a random intermittent reinforcement schedules. Things you could do is to start by observing the things that gives you high pleasure or motivation, and randomly modified the ‘factor’ that enhancing this activity. For example, when you’re doing exercise, you’re also drinking your energetic drinks beforehand and listening to your favorite music when you’re running, what you can do is to cut one of those things, only focus on one thing that give your relatively high but not peak dopamine release activity. You could do a flip coin before to decide whether to take those dopamine supportive elements with you into the gym.

Smart phone (social media) is a very usual dopamine supportive element in our modern daily life and it alters the way our dopamine baseline changes. A good practice is to remove the smart phone element in our activity as much as possible, e.g. When working out or doing other things.

Activities that increase our dopamine baseline

Activities that increase our dopamine baseline: Cold exposure (shower with cold water). Another interesting fact is that when you’re getting reward as you finish something, you’re actually demotivating throughout the engagement the task. The key thing is having the growth mindset, which is only focusing the effort and the process you’re doing, and at the same time removing other things that gives you dopamine, only focus on the effort part and remind yourself that this thing could bring the release of dopamine and you will love it in the end. In summary, don’t spike your dopamine prior or after your activity, spike your dopamine in the effort when you’re doint it.

Intermittent fasting could also help because of the fact that when we’re eating, we’re releasing dopamine. Quitting sugar and palatable food and instead eat whole foods. Same as preventing constantly spending time and receive pleasure through watching the pornography.

Supplement that increase our dopamine baseline

Some supplement that could increase the dopamine baseline, one is Macuna Pruiens, this could also help manage stress, which also helps improve sexual health. L-tyrosine: Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid the body makes from another amino acid called phenylalanine. It is an essential component for the production of several important brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, including epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Those are supplement and not meant to use it regularly, could use it once or twice a week. Phenylethylamine, PEA is also good for releasing dopamine (the host take it from time to time for work focus, 500ml PEA and 300ml of Alpha-GPC). One compound called Huperzine A also gained some popularity recently. For Molatonin, there is a study in 2001 about reducing dopamine, so this is something we might need to avoid.

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