Andrew Huberman – Controlling Your Dopamine For Motivation, Focus & Satisfaction
This episode serves as a sort of “Dopamine Masterclass.” Dopamine is an immensely powerful chemical that we all make in our brain and body.
Dopamine is the primary determinant behind how excited we are, how motivated we are, and how ready we are to push through things to get what we want.
Other dopamine facts
- Dopamine is a neuromodulator – influences the communication of many neurons at once.
- There are 2 main neutral circuits used by dopamine to exert effects: (1) mesocortical limbic pathway – responsible for reward, motivation, craving; (2) nigrostriatal pathway – responsible for movement
- Dopamine release can be local or broad
- There is a baseline level of dopamine circulating in your brain and body all the time (important for how you feel generally) – tonic release of dopamine
- You can experience peaks dopamine above baseline – phasic release of dopamine
IMPORTANT: Your baseline level of dopamine drops after you experience or crave something desirable.
All of us have different levels of baseline dopamine, with some genetic component.
How satisfying an experience is depends on the height of the peak relative to the baseline. Increasing dopamine will make you motivated but it will be short lived.
Levels of dopamine increase by activity
- Chocolate – 1.5x increase above baseline
- Sex (pursuit and act) – 2x baseline
- Nicotine (when smoked) – 2.5x baseline
- Cocaine – 2.5x baseline
- Amphetamine – 10x baseline
- Exercise – 2x baseline if you enjoy it, NO CHANGE if you don’t enjoy it
- Caffeine – does not increase dopamine significantly but it does increase dopamine receptors (yerba mate is the best source)
There are subjective experiences that differentially increase dopamine depending on enjoyment versus things like chocolate, sex, nicotine, etc., which universally increase dopamine.
Layering together multiple substances & activities that lead to big increases in dopamine can create pretty severe issues with motivation and energy right after those experiences
Telling yourself that exercise (fasting, etc) is good for your will reinforce the extent to which it is good for you at a chemical level.