Modern Wisdom Podcast with Chris Williamson – Dr. Andrew Huberman: The Science Of Peak Performance Podcast Summary

Modern Wisdom: #496 – Dr Andrew Huberman – The Science Of Peak Performance | Free Podcast Summary

Modern Wisdom Podcast with Chris Williamson – Dr. Andrew Huberman: The Science Of Peak Performance

Dr. Andrew Huberman, Ph.D. (@hubermanlab) is a Professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford University School of Medicine. His lab focuses on neural regeneration, neuroplasticity, and brain states such as stress, focus, fear, and optimal performance.


  • Universal fear: increased carbon dioxide, reduced oxygen – we don’t have neurons that sense breathing oxygen but we do have neurons that sense carbon dioxide, and this shifts in levels illicit panic
  • As you get more advanced in something that used to be frightening, a new risk surfaces – reflexes are desensitized so the basics can get overlooked (e.g., skydiver not pulling shoot early enough)
  • Fear response to videos: humans are extremely visual (more than 40% of the brain is dedicated to vision) – when we watch people do thrilling/scary things, we have a small brain response that we might suffer the fate of what will happen if that person fails (e.g., we feel like we might fall watching a slack line walker)


  • Dopamine is the molecule of motivation, drive, and reward – it’s about novelty, surprise, and the sense that you’re on an exciting path
  • Dopamine is the molecule from which adrenaline is manufactured
  • Dopamine impacts the way you perceive time: good days feel like they fly by but so much happened in 24 hours; bad days feel forever long even if it’s a blip on the radar
  • Dopamine and human bonds: if you experience adventures or go places with someone you love, you feel closer to them
  • Serotonin makes us feel satisfied, sated, and content with what we have
  • Dopamine & cell phones: when you first pick up your phone it’s exciting; then the novelty fades and it quickly turns into something that almost resembles obsessive-compulsive

The utility of dopamine detox

  • If we expose regularly expose ourselves to things that trigger high levels of dopamine release, we will actually lower our baseline levels of dopamine over time
  • There are two sides to pleasure: (1) seeking out high, euphoria – and (2) seeking experiences that dull or avoid pain
  • Oftentimes initial entry point into drug use is a desire to escape pain, not seek pleasure
  • Pleasure and pain are co-located in the brain and work like a balance, tipping inversely
  • The brain works hard to keep pleasure and pain in constant balance and neutrality
  • Connect with your environment, not try to escape it

Reset your dopamine system

  • To reset the dopamine system and break an addictive pattern: 30 days of zero interaction with drug, person, alcohol, gambling, etc.
  • Days 1–10 will be very uncomfortable. you will feel worse before you feel better
  • By week 2 the sun will come out
  • By weeks 3 and 4 you will feel better than before you started your addiction

The power of mindset

  • Negative beliefs can cause negative consequences in the same way positive beliefs can produce positive results
  • Any event causes a real physiological response, but that response is entangled with our expectation of what the response should be – actual + perceived = reality
  • In a study on aging, people who negative association with the word “aging” died earlier than those who had a positive association
  • If you approach a diet with a mindset of restraint, it could be a counteractive benefit or objective effects of the diet – the brain is telling you to eat more food because you are telling yourself you’re being restricted
  • There’s bad messaging that stress is debilitating, bad, and should be avoided but in reality – stress puts us in a forward motion and propels us toward action

Approach life with love in your heart.

The single best thing you can do for your sleep, energy, mood, wakefulness is to get natural light in your eyes early in the day

Three critical tips for viewing bright light early in the day

(1) viewing in the first 30-60 minutes of waking has a powerful impact on the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep at night;

(2) if it’s dark because of cloudiness or time of day you wake up, flip on artificial lights in your house (but go outside as soon as the sun it out);

(3) Get outside on cloudy days; you need even more light than on a clear day.

Deliberate heat & cold

  • Sauna exposure increased growth hormone 16-fold – important caveat, effect on growth hormone went down with increased sauna use because the body becomes heat adapted
  • If growth hormone increase is your main goal for sauna use, limit to 1x/week or 1x/10 days – and enter fasted or without food in the 2-3 hours prior for maximum benefits
  • Make sure you’re replacing the water you lose in the sauna – drink at least 16 ounces of water for every 10 minutes of sauna use
  • Cold exposure (11 minutes per week, up to the neck) has been shown to increase brown fat which increases metabolism and the ability to feel comfortable in cold temperatures
  • Local heat exposure (not to the point of burning) converts white fat to beige fat which leads to systemic increases in thermogenesis, metabolism, and fat loss – children have a lot of brown and beige fat


  • There’s been a steady decline in sperm count from 1930 till now
  • In areas with high pesticide use, sperm count among men is significantly lower
  • Offspring of mothers who ingest phthalates in utero have decreased in distance from the anus to scrotum – contributing to lower sperm count
  • The most enriched form of BPAs is printed receipts
  • Sperm and testosterone counts are lower in rural areas because of pesticides like phthalates
  • Glyphosate, widely used in the U.S. are banned in 32 countries because of its damaging effects on health
  • Be vigilant about what you put in your body
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