Published January 2021 on YouTube

How Your Nervous System Works & Changes | Huberman Lab Podcast #1

1. Introduction

Nervous System Parts:Andrew discusses the incredible history behind the parts that make up the nervous system and how they contribute to our experience of life. He promises to provide listeners with an entire semester's worth of learning about the nervous system and how it works.+
Health Sponsorships:Andrew discusses the importance of seeking professional advice before trying new health tools or practices. He also thanks the sponsors of the podcast, Athletic Greens and Inside Tracker, and explains how their products can benefit listeners' health.+

2. What is the Nervous System

Andrew explains how the nervous system is a continuous loop of communication between the brain, spinal cord, and body, and how it governs all other biological systems of the body. He also talks about how the discovery of neurons and synapses changed our understanding of the nervous system and how our thoughts and experiences are a flow of electricity between different nerve cells.+

3. Deja Vu

Andrew explains that the nervous system is just electricity and that memories are stored as patterns of electricity and neurons. The electrical activity of the neurons dictates our experience.+

4. War and Neuroscience

Andrew explains how warfare has contributed to our understanding of the nervous system. Specifically, he discusses how naturally occurring lesions caused by bullets during World War I provided insight into the function of specific brain regions, such as the hippocampus, and how speech and language are controlled by separate portions of the nervous system.+

5. Jennifer Aniston Neurons

Andrew explains how our brain is a map of our experience and how it has a bias towards learning particular kinds of things. He gives an interesting example of a neuron that represents Jennifer Aniston and how it indicates that our brain is really a map of our experience.+

6. Sensations

Andrew explains that sensation is a non-negotiable element of the nervous system and that humans perceive only a fraction of what's out there. He gives the example of snakes that can sense heat emissions from other animals, something humans can't do without technology.+

7. Magnetic Sensing & Mating

Andrew explains how certain animals can migrate long distances by sensing magnetic fields through neurons in their nose and head. Humans do not have this ability, but there is some data suggesting that some people may be able to sense magnetic fields.+

8. Perception vs Sensation

Andrew explains the difference between perception and sensation. Sensation is the raw data that our senses receive while perception is our ability to focus on and make sense of that data. By paying attention to our feet, we can shift our perception and become aware of the sensations we were already experiencing.+

9. Multi-Tasking Is Real

Andrew explains how attention is like a spotlight and how we can split our attention into two locations. He emphasizes that attention is under our control and is important to understand when thinking about tools to improve our nervous system.+

10. Two-way Nervous Street

Andrew explains how our nervous system has a two-way street that communicates between reflexive and deliberate actions. He describes how reflexive actions tend to be bottom-up processing while deliberate actions and thoughts are top-down.+

11. Focusing the Mind

Andrew explains how focusing on specific tasks requires effort and strain because our nervous system is wired to do most things easily without much energy consumption.+

12. The Power of Neuromodulators

Andrew explains how neuromodulators like dopamine and serotonin influence our emotional states by biasing which neurons are active. While dopamine is involved in reward and motivation, serotonin makes us feel good with what we have.+

13. Antidepressants

Andrew explains how neuromodulators impact our emotions and how antidepressants work by increasing or decreasing serotonin and dopamine levels. He also discusses how different receptors in our body can have varying effects on our biology, leading to side effects of some antidepressants. Finally, he explores the reflexive nature of emotions and how they are not always under our control.+

14. Thoughts & Thought Control

Andrew explains how thoughts are like perceptions but can draw on memories and anticipation. He also highlights that thoughts can be both reflexive and deliberate, and that people can control the neural circuits that underlie thoughts.+

15. Actions

Andrew explains how our behaviors are the only thing that creates a fossil record of our existence, and how our nervous system is devoted to converting sensation, perceptions, feelings, and thoughts into actions. He also talks about how movement is the final common pathway and how deliberate thinking or behavior recruits neuromodulators that signal something is different.+

16. How We Control Our Impulses

Andrew explains how top down processing helps us control our behavior and how it's absent in young children and people with frontal lobe damage. He also discusses how the frontal cortex is in a tug of war with the limbic system, which can cause agitation and stress.+

17. Neuroplasticity Entry Point

Neuroplasticity Entry Point:Andrew explains that the entry point to neuroplasticity is agitation and strain, and that self-directed neuroplasticity is the most sought-after type of plasticity. He also emphasizes the importance of understanding what aspect of the nervous system one wants to change and how to go about it.+
Adult Neuroplasticity:Andrew explains that while it was once thought that neuroplasticity was only possible in young animals and humans, we now know that the adult brain can also change in response to experience. He discusses how the brain can reallocate real estate for an entirely different function and how there is a lot of interest in inducing more positive neuroplasticity in adulthood.+

18. The Portal to Neuroplasticity

Andrew discusses how neuroplasticity is gated by neuromodulators such as acetylcholine and epinephrine, which are released during heightened alertness. He explains how this can have both positive and negative effects and how focus and motivation are required for neuroplasticity to occur. He also emphasizes that the actual rewiring of neurons occurs during periods of sleep and non-sleep deep rest.+

19. Accelerating Learning in Sleep

Andrew shares studies that show how deep rest and sleep can accelerate neuroplasticity and aid in learning and memory consolidation. He also discusses the importance of neuroplasticity in removing emotional contingencies of bad experiences and memories.+

20. The Pillar of Plasticity

Autonomic Nervous System:Andrew explains the importance of understanding the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and how it governs the transition between alertness and calmness. He simplifies the complicated names of the ANS and emphasizes the importance of mastering the transition between wakefulness and sleep for engaging in neuroplasticity.+
Mastering Sleep:Andrew discusses the importance of sleep quality and timing, and how to access deep states of non-dpo thinking. He also touches on the rhythms of our waking states, and when our brain is optimized for focus and reflexive thinking.+

21. Ultradian Cycles

Ultradian Rhythms:Andrew discusses the existence of ultradian rhythms, which are shorter cycles than circadian rhythms and occur throughout the day, including during sleep. The most important ultradian rhythm is the 90-minute cycle that governs our ability to attend and focus. Our ability to focus and engage in learning is optimized within these 90-minute cycles, which occur in both sleep and wakefulness.+
Ultradian Cycles:Andrew explains the importance of understanding the 90-minute ultradian cycles and how to use them to optimize learning and productivity. By paying attention to when you are most focused and motivated, you can learn to engage in creative thinking at different times of the day.+
Mastering the Autonomic Nervous System:Andrew discusses the importance of mastering the autonomic nervous system and how it affects our sleep and neuroplasticity. He introduces the concept of cycles that govern our life and talks about how we can take control of our nervous system to access creativity and better sleep. The podcast will focus on sleep and non-sleep deep rest for the entire month of January.+