Published March 2023 on YouTube

Leverage Dopamine to Overcome Procrastination & Optimize Effort | Huberman Lab Podcast

1. Dopamine

Andrew discusses the relationship between dopamine and motivation, and how understanding dopamine dynamics can help overcome procrastination and increase confidence. He offers practical tools to optimize mental and physical health, and improve performance by leveraging dopamine circuitry and levels.

2. Sleep and Fitness

Sleep and Fitness:Andrew Huberman discusses the importance of sleep for mental and physical health and introduces two sponsors, Helix Sleep and Whoop, that provide tools for optimizing sleep and fitness.
Performance Enhancing Gear:Andrew discusses the benefits of Whoop for tracking fitness, Roca's eyeglasses and sunglasses designed for athletes, and Momentous Supplements for enhancing performance. Listeners can get a free month of Whoop and 20% off their first order at Roca by using the code "Huberman".

3. Dopamine Brain Circuits

Understanding Dopamine:Andrew Huberman explains what dopamine is and how it works as a neuromodulator in the brain and body. He discusses the five circuits in the brain that use dopamine and their related functions. The first circuit is the nigrostrital pathway, which contains neurons that release dopamine in a brain structure called the striatum.
Brain Pathways:Andrew explains the two brain circuits that use dopamine to initiate and suppress movements, and modulate basic functions for survival.
The Mesocortical Pathway:Andrew explains how the mesocortical pathway, which connects the VTA and nucleus accumbens to the prefrontal cortex, governs our major choices in life. He discusses how dopamine affects our propensity to take action or prevent it, and how the prefrontal cortex plays a critical role in understanding context and suppressing impulses.
The Dopamine Pathways:Andrew explains the different dopamine pathways in the brain and how they impact various bodily functions, including hormone release and visual adaptation. He focuses on the mesocortical pathway and briefly mentions the other pathways.

4. Goals & Addiction

Andrew explains how the mesocortical pathway works and how dopamine affects our sense of motivation and drive. He also defines addiction as a progressive narrowing of the things that bring us pleasure.

5. Understanding Dopamine

Andrew explains how dopamine is released and the importance of understanding dopamine peaks and troughs. He uses the analogy of a wave pool to help listeners visualize how dopamine works in the mesocortical pathway. The peaks and baseline relate to each other and it's crucial to maintain a balance to avoid emptying the dopamine pool.

6. Dopamine & Desire

Dopamine Peaks & Baselines:Andrew explains how the level of dopamine below baseline is crucial in determining whether or not we feel motivated to pursue something. The increase in dopamine is triggered by our desire for something, not just when we receive the reward. This drop below baseline is fundamental to the whole process and is triggered by the preceding peak.
The Neuroscience of Reward:Andrew explains how dopamine levels fluctuate based on the experience of receiving a reward, and how the concept of reward prediction error plays a role in determining the level of satisfaction with the reward.
Understanding Desire:Andrew explains how desire for things increases dopamine, but then the drop in dopamine below baseline triggers the motivation to pursue the desired thing, leading to context dependent craving and pursuit. He emphasizes that understanding reward, prediction error, and craving can help increase motivation, especially in difficult situations and procrastination.

7. Sponsor: AG1 (Athletic Greens)

Andrew discusses the importance of gut health and how athletic greens provides optimal and vital probiotics for microbiotic health. He also mentions the adaptogens, vitamins, and minerals contained in athletic greens that meet all of his foundational nutritional needs. Listeners can try athletic greens and receive five free travel packs and a year supply of vitamin D three K two by going to Athletic Greens.com and using the code "huberman".

8. Understanding Dopamine

Dopamine Dynamics:Andrew shares new insights on the dynamics of dopamine release and how understanding it can help overcome procrastination and achieve goals. By zooming in on the peak and trough associated with craving, he explains how our brains set a mindset and context for achieving our goals.
Understanding Motivation:Andrew explains how cues trigger dopamine release, which drives motivation towards achieving a goal. He also highlights why some people have trouble with motivation and how it relates to achieving goals in different contexts.
Dopamine and Learning:Andrew explains how the dopamine system is involved in learning and how it compares what you wanted to what you got. He also discusses the ongoing release of dopamine that drives us towards our goals and the learning contingency that helps us understand what led up to a reward or what didn't lead up to a reward.

9. Addiction and Meditation

Addiction and Meditation:Andrew discusses the relationship between addiction and the dopamine system and how meditation can be used as a tool to combat addiction. He explains how addiction involves dopamine and the opioid system and how meditation can help regulate these systems.
The Dopamine Loop:Andrew explains how cocaine creates a short, hyper-short contingency between the stimulus and dopamine, making it hard to pursue things that take longer to achieve. The higher the peak in dopamine, and the faster the rise to that peak, the further below baseline the dopamine drops after the drug wears off, triggering the desire and pursuit for more.

10. Dopamine and Behavior

Dopamine and Substance Use:Andrew explains how different substances affect dopamine release in the brain, and how this affects our behavior. From food to cocaine, the amount of dopamine released varies greatly, with some substances causing a tenfold increase in dopamine release.
Dopamine and Behavior:Andrew explains how dopamine affects behavior and how it varies from person to person. He discusses how dopamine is released in response to different substances and behaviors, and how understanding this can help us pursue healthy goals and behaviors.

11. Understanding Addiction

Andrew Huberman discusses the dopamine dynamics involved in addiction and how binding behaviors can help retrain the prefrontal cortex to engage in healthy, adaptive goal pursuit. He also explains the importance of context setting and goal-directed behavior in overcoming addiction.

12. Boosting Dopamine

Boosting Dopamine:Andrew discusses how to achieve a healthy baseline level of dopamine and the practices that can help increase it. Getting sufficient sleep each night and non-sleep deep rest are some of the practices that can help boost dopamine levels. These practices are crucial for anyone looking to pursue goals in different areas of life.
Boosting Dopamine:Andrew explains how traditional meditation doesn't increase dopamine levels, but non-sleep deep breaths and proper nutrition can help maintain a healthy baseline level of dopamine. He suggests foods rich in tyrosine and shares a link to a free NSDR exercise on YouTube.
Boosting Dopamine Naturally:Andrew explains the fundamentals of maintaining elevated levels of baseline dopamine through sleep, morning sunlight exposure, and regular exercise. He also discusses the variation in baseline levels of dopamine and how engaging in these foundational activities can help everyone achieve an optimal level.

13. Sponsor: InsideTracker

Andrew discusses the importance of regular blood work and introduces Inside Tracker, a personalized nutrition platform that analyzes data from your blood and DNA to help you better understand your body and reach your health goals. He emphasizes the challenge of interpreting blood work without guidance and explains how Inside Tracker's personalized dashboard can help address nutrition, behavior, and supplement-based approaches to optimize your health markers.

14. Boosting Dopamine

Elevating Baseline Dopamine:Andrew explains how to increase baseline levels of dopamine through behavioral changes and supplements. Exposure to cold water has been shown to increase dopamine levels for up to 5 hours.
Boosting Dopamine:Andrew recommends deliberate cold exposure to increase dopamine for long periods of time. This can be achieved by taking a very cold shower or plunge for a brief period of time or by sitting in warmer water up to the neck for 45 to 60 minutes. The temperature and duration don't need to be precise, but it should be uncomfortably cold to increase baseline levels of dopamine significantly.

15. Boosting Dopamine

Boosting Dopamine:Andrew discusses how dopamine levels can be increased through prescription drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall, as well as over-the-counter supplements like L-tyrosine and Mccunapurines. He emphasizes the importance of single-ingredient supplements and individual variation in managing and tolerating different dosages of drugs.
Boosting Dopamine:Andrew discusses the effects of different supplements on dopamine levels, including Mccunapurines and Ltyrosine. While Mccunapurines may increase dopamine levels temporarily, it is not recommended due to its peak and trough effect. On the other hand, Ltyrosine has been shown to increase dopamine levels and improve cognitive performance at low dosages.
Tyrosine and Cognitive Function:Andrew discusses the effects of tyrosine on cognitive function, specifically working memory, under conditions of stress and multitasking. He cites several studies showing that elevated levels of dopamine from tyrosine supplementation can improve cognitive performance.
Boosting Dopamine:Andrew discusses the benefits of taking Ltyrosine to increase baseline levels of dopamine, which can improve cognitive and physical performance. He recommends starting with a low dose and being cautious of combining it with other stimulants.

16. Dopamine Peaks and Troughs

Andrew Huberman explains how dopamine levels fluctuate after peak experiences and the associated troughs that follow. He emphasizes the importance of waiting for dopamine levels to replenish and not engaging in behaviors that lead to diminished peaks. Additionally, he discusses how to leverage the pain and effort associated with troughs to get back to a higher level of baseline dopamine.

17. Dopamine and Motivation

Leveraging Your Dopamine System:Andrew discusses how leveraging your dopamine system can help you be maximally motivated and avoid procrastination. He shares a classic experiment done at Stanford that showed how introducing rewards can increase the time children spend on a particular activity. By understanding the neuroscience behind motivation, we can accelerate our progress towards any goal.
Reward Prediction Error:Andrew explains how rewards can affect motivation and dopamine levels. Rewards can increase dopamine levels and motivation for an activity, but once the rewards are removed, the motivation can drop below the baseline level. This is due to the dopamine reward prediction error, where peaks in dopamine give rise to subsequent troughs in dopamine.
Protecting Enjoyable Activities:Andrew discusses the importance of protecting enjoyable activities by avoiding the attachment of reward behavior or substances to them. He uses his love for exercise as an example and explains how the feeling during and after exercise gives him a sense of satisfaction.
Performance Enhancers:Andrew shares his experience with using caffeine and supplements to enhance his physical and cognitive performance. While it did improve his performance, he noticed a significant drop in energy afterwards and a decrease in enthusiasm for his work.
Dopamine Stimulation:Andrew discusses the dangers of overstimulating your system with too much dopamine and caffeine. He shares his experience with Adrenal insufficiency and how he learned to be cautious about stacking dopamine stimulating behaviors and compounds.
The Power of Intrinsic Motivation:Andrew discusses the importance of engaging in intrinsically joyful activities without the need for external stimuli. Intrinsic motivation is the key to reaching our goals and enjoying the process. He also touches on the science behind it, including the role of dopamine and how to overcome procrastination.

18. Leveraging Dopamine

Andrew discusses how to leverage dopamine peaks and troughs to make effort the reward in meditation and drive. He also talks about the growth mindset and how adopting the word "yet" can help with motivation and performance.

19. Tool: Overcome Procrastination

Overcoming Lack of Motivation:Andrew explains how to overcome lack of motivation and procrastination by understanding the pain trough caused by a lack of dopamine. He shares two ways to get out of the pain trough: wait for motivation to come back or engage in mild meditation replacement activities.
Overcoming Procrastination:Andrew explains the common tactic of procrastination and how it can lead to a pseudo panic. He shares his personal experience with procrastination and how findings from the addiction literature can help overcome it. The rate at which you get out of the trough is proportional to how steep that trough is, and leveraging dopamine can help overcome procrastination.
Overcoming Procrastination:Andrew explains how to overcome procrastination by doing something harder than the state you are in. He emphasizes that this doesn't mean causing harm to yourself, but rather engaging in activities that put your body and mind into a state of discomfort. By doing so, you can rebound yourself out of the dopamine trough much more quickly.
Overcoming Procrastination:Andrew Huberman explains how to overcome procrastination by leveraging pain to increase motivation and boost dopamine levels. He suggests finding something that really sucks but is safe, like cold water exposure, to steepen the slope of the dopamine trough and get out of a state of procrastination quickly.

20. Tool: Meditation & Procrastination

Effortful Activities:Andrew discusses how effortful activities, such as meditation, can be used as a tool to combat procrastination and increase dopamine levels. While classic forms of meditation do not directly increase dopamine levels, the effort required to practice it can be beneficial for those who find it difficult to meditate.
Boosting Motivation:Andrew discusses how to boost motivation by deepening dopamine troughs and using effortful activities to get out of procrastination states. He also talks about the importance of maintaining a healthy baseline level of dopamine and attaching reward to the effort process itself.

21. Supporting the Huberman Lab

Andrew Huberman discusses the benefits of supplements and announces a partnership with Momentous Supplements. He also encourages listeners to sign up for the Huberman Lab Podcast Neural Network newsletter, which provides summaries and toolkits for various podcast episodes.