Published July 2021 on YouTube

The Science of Hearing, Balance & Accelerated Learning | Huberman Lab Podcast #27

1. Overview of Topics

Andrew discusses the science of hearing and balance, how they interact with the brain and body, and how they can be leveraged for faster learning. He also covers topics such as tinnitus and otoacoustic emissions, and provides tools for improving hearing and balance.+

2. Rest for Learning

Rest for Learning:Andrew discusses the importance of rest within the learning episode based on recent scientific studies. Injecting rest within the learning episode enhances the rates and depth of learning. The study involved having people learn sequences of numbers or keys on a piano, where they practiced for 10 seconds and then took a 10-second pause or rest.+
Boosting Learning:Andrew explains how taking short periods of rest can enhance rates of learning. Injecting 10-second rest periods can help retain skills faster and improve skill acquisition. The brain remains active during these rest periods, allowing for temporal compression and faster rehearsal.+
Boosting Learning:Andrew discusses the spacing effect and how taking 10-second rest periods during learning can increase the number of reps by 20 times. He recommends not attending to anything else during these rest periods and suggests taking a 20-minute nap or decompress period after learning to enhance learning even further.+

3. Introduction: Hearing & Balance

Eyeglasses for Performance:Andrew talks about Roka eyeglasses and sunglasses that were designed for performance, with features like optical clarity, lightweight, and staying on your face even if you get sweaty. They also have a great aesthetic, and you can wear them anywhere. Use the code Huberman to save 20% off your first order.+
Personalized Health Insights:Andrew discusses the benefits of regular blood work and DNA testing for understanding one's body and reaching health goals. He recommends InsideTracker for personalized nutrition plans based on blood and DNA analysis. He also mentions Headspace, a meditation app backed by studies, to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.+

4. How We Perceive Sounds

Hearing Basics:Andrew explains the amazing biology behind hearing and how our ears capture sound waves. He also discusses the shape of our ears and how it amplifies high-frequency sounds.+
How We Hear:Andrew explains how sound waves are converted into electrical signals that the brain can understand. He breaks down the process of how the eardrum and cochlea work together to separate sounds of different frequencies.+
How Sound Works:Andrew explains how sound waves work and how the cochlea in our ears breaks down sound into its component parts of high, medium, and low frequencies. Our brain then makes sense of these frequencies to understand the sounds we hear in our environment.+

5. Your Hearing Brain (Areas)

Andrew explains how auditory information is processed in the brain, from the hair cells in the cochlea to the neocortex. He highlights the importance of knowing where sound is coming from and the various stations in which auditory information is processed before reaching our conscious awareness.+

6. Localizing Sounds

Andrew explains how our auditory system, specifically the neurons in our brainstem, help us locate the position of things in space through interaural time differences and frequency differences. He also discusses how the shape of our ears plays a role in sound localization and why cupping our ears can improve our ability to hear where things are coming from.+

7. Ear Movement: What It Means

Andrew discusses the ability of humans to move their ears and the underlying biology behind it, as well as the similarities between human and primate ears. He also mentions a scientific paper on the topic for those interested in learning more.+

8. Ear Noises

Andrew discusses otoacoustic emissions, which are sounds your ears make that most people can't detect. He explains that women who report themselves as heterosexual have a higher frequency of otoacoustic emissions than men who report themselves as heterosexual. Additionally, sexual dimorphisms in otoacoustic emissions can be shaped by exposure to certain hormones during development.+

9. Binaural Beats: Do They Work?

Binaural Beats:Andrew explains the science behind binaural beats and how they can potentially improve focus, relaxation, and creativity. He also discusses the extensive scientific data on the topic and how sound waves are measured.+
Brain Waves:Andrew discusses the different frequencies of brain waves and how they can affect our state of mind. He explains how binaural beats can be used to increase alertness or calmness, depending on the desired outcome.+
Binaural Beats Benefits:Andrew discusses the effectiveness of binaural beats in bringing the brain into states of relaxation and alertness, and how they can be used to treat anxiety and chronic pain. He also explores the potential benefits of binaural beats for studying and learning, and how they can be a useful tool for those who experience dental anxiety.+

10. White Noise Benefits

White Noise and Learning:Andrew discusses the beneficial effects of white noise on learning, citing studies that show how it can enhance brain function for adults. He also delves into the mechanism behind this effect and how understanding it can lead to the development of better tools and protocols. However, he cautions that white noise can have a detrimental effect on auditory learning in very young children, particularly infants.+
White Noise and Learning:Andrew explains how white noise can enhance learning by increasing dopamine release from the substantia nigra. The volume of the white noise should be adjusted to a level that is not intrusive or irritating to the listener, but rather enhances their ability to focus.+

11. Headphones

Headphones and White Noise:Andrew explains the effects of headphones on the brain and how white noise can enhance learning by raising the baseline of dopamine release. He recommends keeping the volume low and using white noise as a background effect to increase attention and motivation.+
Protect Your Hearing:Andrew shares insights on how to protect your hearing from loud environments and loud music. He emphasizes the importance of avoiding big inflections in sound and using earplugs or headphones to prevent hearing loss.+

12. White Noise and Auditory Development

White Noise Development:Andrew explains how white noise during development can be detrimental to the auditory system and can disrupt the maps of the auditory world within the brain. He cites data published in the journal Science and shares insights from a neurosurgeon, Edward Chang, who studied auditory learning and neuroplasticity in animal models.+
Understanding Tonotopic Maps:Andrew explains how the cochlea separates frequencies into tonotopic maps and how the developing brain learns the relationship between the child and the outside world. He also discusses how white noise, which contains no tonotopic information, can be detrimental to the development of the auditory system during sleep.+
White Noise and Child Development:Andrew explains how white noise can affect a child's auditory development and suggests considering avoiding it in a young child's sleeping environment. However, in adulthood, the presence of background white noise can support learning by bringing the brain into a heightened state of alertness.+

13. Auditory Learning Insights

Auditory Learning:Andrew explains the cocktail party effect and how the brain attends to specific components of sound waves. He also discusses the attentional effort required to listen to conversations in a loud environment and how auditory learning can help improve this skill.+
Auditory Attention:Andrew explains how we can expand and contract our auditory field of view and how we pay attention to the onset and offset of words to extract particular sounds. He also suggests disengaging the auditory system when we don't need to focus our attention on something particular.+
Auditory Attention:Andrew Huberman explains how paying attention to the onset and offset of auditory information can improve learning and memory. He provides tips on how to extract sound information and suggests that hijacking naturally-occurring attention mechanisms can accelerate learning.+

14. How to Learn Information You Hear

Boosting Neuroplasticity:Andrew explains how attention can activate neuroplasticity in the adult brain, citing the work of Recanzone and Merzenich. By focusing on specific cues within speech or sounds, we can remap tonotopic maps in the cortex and change neural circuitry, leading to faster learning.+
Efficient Listening:Andrew explains how we can remember information better by highlighting particular words and components of speech. He suggests that we don't have to listen to every word, but instead focus on particular themes within the content. By doing so, we can extract more information overall, even though we're not paying attention to all the information at once.+

15. Doppler

Andrew explains the Doppler effect, how we experience sound when things are moving, and how animals such as bats use sound to navigate their environment. He also highlights how the Doppler effect has probably saved our lives many times without us realizing it.+

16. Tinnitus Treatments

Tinnitus Treatment:Andrew discusses tinnitus, its causes, and how it can be treated. He emphasizes the importance of protecting hair cells and avoiding loud environments. He also mentions four compounds that have been shown to help with tinnitus.+
Tinnitus Treatments:Andrew discusses four different treatments for tinnitus: melatonin, Ginkgo Boaboa, zinc, and magnesium. While each has shown some modest effects in reducing the severity of tinnitus symptoms, Andrew emphasizes that he is a scientist and not a physician, and encourages listeners to talk to their doctors before trying any of these treatments.+

17. Aging: How Big Are Your Ears?

Andrew explains how ear size can be used to measure biological age and how it relates to collagen synthesis. He also discusses the correlation between ear growth and biological progression through life.+

18. Balance: Semi-Circular Canals

Balancing Basics:Andrew explains how our ears play a crucial role in our ability to balance and how the semicircular canals work to detect movement in three different planes.+
The Vestibular System:Andrew explains how the vestibular system works in animals with jaws, including humans. The system is responsible for balance and movement, and works in conjunction with the visual system. The system is made up of little stones that move around in response to head movements, which stimulate hair cells that send information to the brain.+

19. A Vestibular Experiment

Andrew explains how the vestibular system works and how it is connected to the visual system. He demonstrates how moving your head slowly can disrupt the vestibular system and cause discomfort, while moving it quickly sends a signal to the brain and improves eye movement. He also discusses how this system can cause seasickness and offers tips to offset nausea.+

20. Improve Your Sense of Balance

Optimize Balance:Andrew explains how the vestibular system informs our vision and balance, and shares a cool way to optimize balance by stepping our vision out to further distances while still balancing on one leg.+
Enhancing Balance:Andrew explains how the visual system is the primary input by which you develop balance and how you can enhance your sense of balance by combining changes in your visual environment with a static posture. He recommends incorporating the visual system and extending out, and then marching back in the point at which you direct your visual focus, to send robust information about the relationship between your visual world and your balance system.+

21. Accelerating Balance

Andrew explains that to enhance our sense of balance, we need to cultivate and build up our vestibular system and our sense of acceleration. He suggests engaging balance in a dynamic way, meaning moving through lots of different planes of movement, and discusses the importance of tilting the body and the head with respect to Earth's gravitational pull.+

22. Self-Generated Forward Motion

Andrew explains the benefits of exercising with tilted acceleration, which activates the cerebellum and releases neuromodulators like serotonin and dopamine, leading to a positive effect on mood and wellbeing. He also emphasizes the importance of maintaining physical balance and building up the vestibular system through this type of exercise.+

23. Dizzy versus Light-Headed

Andrew explains the difference between feeling dizzy and lightheaded, and discusses the various causes of both, including low blood sugar and low electrolytes. He also shares a simple remedy for lightheadedness that involves adding salt to water.+

24. Motion Sickness Solution

Andrew explains how to improve balance by allowing the visual system to track with the vestibular system, and not fixating on a particular location. He also discusses how uncoupling visual information from motion can lead to nausea and provides tips for passengers in cars.+

25. Synthesis

Andrew discusses how binaural beats and the vestibular apparatus can enhance brain states and learning. He also mentions the importance of balance and how it can be improved through the vestibular apparatus and visual system. Andrew provides supplement recommendations and ways to support the podcast.+