Published September 2021 on YouTube

ADHD & How Anyone Can Improve Their Focus | Huberman Lab Podcast #37

1. Improving Focus

Andrew discusses how we can all improve our ability to focus, whether or not we have ADHD. He covers drug-based and behavioral tools, the role of diet and supplementation, and emerging brain-machine interface devices. He also reminds us not to self-diagnose or diagnose others and that we can all rewire our circuits to make heightened levels of focus more accessible.+

2. Sponsors

Eyeglasses and Organic Meat:Andrew discusses the benefits of Roka eyeglasses and how they are designed to work with the visual system. He also talks about Belcampo, a regenerative farm in Northern California that raises organic grass-fed meat and how he incorporates meat into his daily diet. Listeners can use the code Huberman to save 20% off their first order of Roka eyeglasses.+
Quality Meat & Customized Mattresses:Andrew discusses the importance of consuming high-quality meat from humanely raised animals and shares his favorite meat products from Belcampo. He also talks about the significance of having a mattress customized to your sleep needs and recommends Helix sleep mattresses and pillows.+

3. Understanding ADHD

Andrew explains the genetic component of ADHD and how it relates to specific neural circuits in the brain. He also discusses the renaming of ADD to ADHD and how it has led to better diagnosis and detection of ADHD. Additionally, he explores the possibility of ADHD developing in adults due to the way we interact with the world.+

4. Attention & Focus, Impulse Control

Andrew explains the science behind attention and how it relates to perception. He defines attention as perception and explains how people with ADHD have trouble holding their attention. He also differentiates between attention, focus, and impulse control.+

5. Hyper-focus

Andrew explains that people with ADHD have the ability to focus on things they enjoy and are intrigued by, but struggle with attention for things they don't want to do. He also discusses the misconception that all people with ADHD are hyperactive.+

6. Time Perception

Andrew Huberman discusses the challenges with time perception, particularly for those with ADHD. He explains how people with ADHD can focus well if there are severe consequences, but struggle to line up activities to meet deadlines. Huberman also shares tips on how to improve time perception.+

7. The Pile System

Andrew explains that people with ADHD often use the pile system to organize their belongings, but this system doesn't work for them in terms of completing tasks. This is a common phenotype of ADHD.+

8. Working Memory

Andrew explains how people with ADHD have trouble with working memory, which is the ability to keep specific information online and recycle it in your brain for immediate or short-term use. He highlights that people with ADHD can have a good memory for past and upcoming events, but struggle with remembering things for a short amount of time. He also mentions that deficits in working memory are seen in people with frontotemporal dementia and age-related cognitive decline.+

9. Hyper-Focus & Dopamine

Andrew explains how dopamine, a neuromodulator, affects our ability to focus and perceive the world around us. The release of dopamine in our brain narrows our visual and auditory focus, allowing us to direct our attention to particular things in our environment. This insight sheds light on why people with ADHD can focus intensely on things they enjoy and are curious about.+

10. Brain Circuits

Brain Circuits:Andrew explains the two main types of circuits in the brain - the default mode network and the task networks - and how they interact with each other in relation to ADHD. The default mode network is active when the brain is at rest, while the task networks make you goal oriented. Understanding how these circuits work can help us better understand ADHD and how to treat it.+
ADHD Neurobiology:Andrew explains how the brain of a person with ADHD works differently than that of a typical person. The default mode and task networks are more coordinated in a person with ADHD, whereas they are anti-correlated in a typical person. Dopamine acts as a conductor in the brain, and in ADHD, there is something about the dopamine system that is not allowing it to conduct these networks and make sure that they stay anti-correlated.+

11. ADHD and Dopamine

Andrew Huberman discusses the low dopamine hypothesis of ADHD and how it affects attention regulation. He explains how dopamine levels impact neuron firing and discusses the use of recreational drugs and stimulants to increase dopamine levels in people with ADHD.+

12. ADHD and Dopamine

ADHD and Dopamine:Andrew explains how dopamine levels affect focus and decision-making in people with ADHD, and how they may self-medicate with substances that increase dopamine levels. He also discusses the difference in reactions to these substances between those with and without ADHD.+
ADHD Medications:Andrew discusses the different medications used to treat ADHD, such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Modafinil, and how they affect dopamine levels in the brain. He also explains the differences between these drugs and how they are used to treat narcolepsy.+
ADHD Medications:Andrew explains the pharmacokinetics of ADHD medications, which are stimulants that increase dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline. He emphasizes that they are structurally and chemically similar to dangerous street drugs, but can be beneficial when prescribed at appropriate dosages by a board-certified MD. Andrew also acknowledges that many people take these drugs without being clinically diagnosed with ADHD.+

13. Self-Medicating for Focus

Andrew discusses the high rate of stimulant use among young people and adults, and how caffeine and nicotine have been used as stimulants for focus for ages. He explains how these substances work in the brain to increase energy and focus.+

14. ADHD and Stimulants

Andrew explains how stimulants work for children with ADHD and how it helps them learn focus. He also talks about the long-term and short-term consequences of taking these drugs without a clinical need.+

15. ADHD Medication

ADHD Medication:Andrew discusses the use of medication for ADHD in children with a pediatric neurologist, who specializes in the treatment of epilepsy and ADHD. They discuss the benefits and potential risks of using medication, and the importance of adjusting the dosage as the child grows older.+
Childhood Neuroplasticity:Andrew explains how childhood neuroplasticity is the perfect time to reshape the brain at an accelerated rate, and how early treatment is key to allow frontal circuits to achieve their appropriate levels of functioning.+

16. ADHD and Diet

ADHD and Diet:Andrew discusses the role of diet in treating ADHD and shares insights from a study that explored the effects of an elimination diet on children with ADHD. The study involved 100 children and found that certain foods may have an impact on attention levels.+
ADHD and Diet:Andrew discusses a study that showed eliminating foods that children are mildly allergic to can significantly improve symptoms of ADHD. The study had a large number of subjects and showed a significant improvement in ADHD symptoms observed. However, there are criticisms of the overall structural design of the study.+
ADHD and Diet:Andrew speaks with a pediatric neurologist about the effects of diet on ADHD symptoms. While elimination diets are controversial, eliminating simple sugars has a dramatic and positive effect on children with ADHD. Some children are able to reduce or eliminate medication altogether with dietary changes.+

17. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: EPAs & DHAs

Andrew discusses the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, including their positive effects on mood, cardiovascular health, and the immune system. He also explores their potential for helping adults with ADHD function well on lower doses of medication.+

18. Sleep and ADHD

Andrew explains how sleep plays a modulatory role in regulating emotions, the immune system, and attention. He discusses the difference between modulating and mediating processes and how diet can affect ADHD symptoms. Andrew also shares a recent study on the oligoantigenic diet and its impact on ADHD.+

19. Attentional Blinks

Enhancing Focus:Andrew shares insights from the book "Altered Traits" by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson about attentional blinks and how they affect our ability to focus. He also discusses a tool backed by research that can enhance our ability to focus in a single session.+
Attentional Blinks:Andrew explains attentional blinks and how they affect our ability to focus. He discusses how people with ADHD may experience more attentional blinks than those without, leading to distractibility. This insight could help those with ADHD and anyone looking to improve their focus.+

20. Rewire Your Attention

Open Monitoring:Andrew explains the concept of open monitoring, a state of attention that allows individuals to recognize multiple targets by dilating their gaze and accessing panoramic vision. This can be trained and practiced by anyone, regardless of whether they have ADHD or not.+
Rewire Your Attention:Andrew discusses the benefits of a simple 15-17 minute meditation practice that involves focusing on your breathing and internal state, known as interoception. This practice can significantly reduce attentional blinks and improve focus in both children and adults, and may even offset age-related cognitive decline. It's a worthwhile tool for everyone to rewire their attentional circuitry.+

21. Blinking and Time

Blinking and Time Perception:Andrew explains how blinking affects our perception of time. Attentional blinks cause us to miss information while spontaneous blinks reset our perception of time. The more alert we are, the higher the frame rate of our experience, making time seem slower. Conversely, when we're relaxed or sleepy, time seems to fly by.+
Blinking and Time:Andrew explains how dopamine controls attention and how blinking is related to attention and focus. He also discusses how levels of dopamine can alter our sense of time and how blinking and dopamine are inextricably linked. The episode concludes by discussing how children with ADHD or people with normal levels of focus can improve their ability to focus through a training that involves learning how often to blink and when, and how to keep their visual focus on a given target.+

22. Fidget Toys and Focus

Andrew explains how fidget toys can help children with ADHD and adults to focus better by engaging their premotor activity. He shares an anecdote from his experience with brain surgeries to illustrate the underlying mechanism.+

23. Blinking and Focus

Andrew explains how blinking regulates the amount of information going into our nervous system and how it affects our focus. He also discusses how drugs and heightened levels of alertness and excitement tend to make us blink less and attend more.+

24. Cannabis

Andrew explains how cannabis can increase focus due to its effects on dopamine and other neurochemicals, but can also deplete memory. Chronic cannabis use can decrease spontaneous eyeblink rates, leading to a mellow but alert state.+

25. Interoceptive Awareness

Andrew discusses the misconception that people with ADHD lack interoceptive awareness and how studies have shown that they are just as aware of their internal state as anyone else. The challenge for people with ADHD is their ability to focus and regulate their attention, which is regulated by certain neurochemicals.+

26. Brain-Boosting Drugs

Brain-Boosting Drugs:Andrew discusses the classic prescription drugs used to treat ADHD, such as Ritalin and Adderall, and their efficacy in increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. He also touches on emerging non-prescription supplements that show promising results. Andrew emphasizes the importance of understanding the side effects of these drugs and supplements before use.+
Stimulant Side Effects:Andrew discusses the side effects of stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine, including sexual side effects and cardiovascular problems. He also talks about the importance of combining drug treatments with behavioral exercises to enhance focus and potentially taper off the need for chemical intervention in treating ADHD.+

27. Omega-3 and ADHD

Andrew explains how omega-3 fatty acids can positively modulate attention and focus, and the importance of reaching a threshold level of 300 milligrams of DHA for attentional effects. He also discusses the potential benefits of phosphatidylserine for reducing ADHD symptoms, especially when taken with omega-3.+

28. Ginko Biloba

Andrew discusses the minor effects of Ginkgo Biloba in improving ADHD symptoms, but warns about the potent vasoconstrictive and vasodilating properties that can cause splitting headaches in some people, including himself. He advises those exploring Ginkgo Biloba to consider this issue before use.+

29. Modafinil and Armodafinil

Andrew discusses the popularity of Modafinil and Armodafinil as alternatives to Adderall and Ritalin for increasing focus. He explains how they work on the dopamine and orexin systems and shares his personal experience with armodafinil. He also mentions that he is not currently taking any of the compounds discussed in the episode.+

30. Boosting Focus

Andrew explains how acetylcholine is involved in generating muscular contractions and how it is released from two sites in the brain to bring about a tremendous degree of focus to whatever is happening at those particular synapses. He also talks about how alpha-GPC, a form of choline, increases acetylcholine transmission to create more focus, stimulate acetylcholine release from both of those locations and offset some of the effects of age-related cognitive decline.+

31. L-Tyrosine, (PEA) Phenylethylamine

Andrew discusses the use of L-Tyrosine and PEA as over the counter compounds to improve focus and treat ADHD. He warns that dosaging can be tricky and should be approached with caution, especially for those with underlying psychiatric or mood disorders.+

32. Racetams, Noopept

Andrew discusses the emerging area of cognitive enhancers, specifically Racetams and their impact on the cholinergic system. He explains how these compounds can improve focus and cognitive capacity, especially in individuals with mild cognitive disorders or brain diseases of vascular and traumatic origin. Andrew also recommends a comprehensive review article for those interested in learning more about these compounds and their effects.+

33. TMS for ADHD

Andrew explains how transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can be used to treat ADHD and enhance focus in anyone. TMS is a non-invasive tool that involves placing a coil over specific locations in the brain to increase or decrease activity in certain brain areas. TMS can be used to stimulate the prefrontal cortex in children and adults with ADHD to teach the brain to learn in a non-invasive way, without the use of drugs.+

34. Smartphone ADHD

Smartphone ADHD:Andrew discusses how smartphones are making it harder for people to focus, leading to a sort of induced ADHD. The rapid turnover of context within the phone is overwhelming our brains and leading to deficits in the types of attention we need to perform well in work, school, relationships, etc.+
Smartphone Use and Attention:Andrew Huberman discusses a study on smartphone use and attentional capacity in adolescents and adults. The study found that limiting smartphone use to 60 minutes per day for adolescents and two hours per day for adults can help maintain focus and prevent attentional deficits. Huberman emphasizes the importance of focus for success in all areas of life.+

35. Synthesis/Summary

Andrew covers a range of topics related to ADHD, including the underlying neural circuitry, neurochemistry, prescription drug treatments, and over the counter compounds. He also discusses the role of particular types of diets and elimination diets, as well as the impact of emerging neurotechnologies like smartphones on our ability to focus. Despite the length of the episode, Andrew emphasizes that it can be consumed in parts and offers insights into enhancing focus, including a tool that takes just one 17-minute session to improve focus long-term.+

36. Supporting the Huberman Lab

Andrew shares ways to support the Huberman Lab, including subscribing to the podcast and YouTube channel, leaving reviews, and making tax-deductible donations. He also discusses the importance of taking high-quality supplements and offers a discount code for Thorn products.+