Published February 2021 on YouTube

Using Failures, Movement & Balance to Learn Faster | Huberman Lab Podcast #7

1. Introduction

Science-Based Tools:Andrew shares his experience with Headspace and Athletic Greens, two science-based tools that he personally uses and recommends for everyday life. He discusses the benefits of meditation and how Headspace makes it easy to stick to a regular practice. He also talks about Athletic Greens, an all-in-one vitamin and mineral drink that he has been using for years.+
Changing Your Nervous System:Andrew explains how movement and balance can be used to change your nervous system. He discusses the basic science of neuroplasticity and protocols and tools that support changing the nervous system. The chapter focuses on mechanisms and scientific data rather than gimmicks and hacks.+

2. Nerves and Muscles

Brain and Behavior:Andrew discusses how the brain controls behavior through movement and the role of lower motor neurons in the spinal cord. He explains how neural memory, not muscle memory, controls motor patterns and the importance of circuits in the brain stem called central pattern generators.+
Motor Control Basics:Andrew explains the basics of motor control in the nervous system, including the role of central pattern generators in generating repetitive patterns of movement and the involvement of upper motor neurons in deliberate action. He also discusses how changes to motor patterns can be leveraged for neuroplasticity.+

3. Changing the Brain

Andrew explains that while exercise is beneficial for maintaining physical health, it alone cannot open up neuroplasticity. He discusses the possibility of behavior changing the brain and emphasizes that this can only occur if the behavior is different enough in specific ways from the behaviors already known.Show transcript +

4. Behavior will change your brain

Andrew explains that accessing neuroplasticity requires learning new behaviors that are different from the ones you already know how to perform well. He also highlights a key element to accessing neuroplasticity that is not commonly discussed in general conversations about the topic.+

5. Remembering the wrong things

Andrew discusses the importance of being selective about brain changes and accessing neuroplasticity for specific learning goals, rather than trying to remember everything. He highlights the drawbacks of over-remembering and emphasizes the need for adaptive changes.+

6. Behavior as the gate to plasticity

Andrew discusses how behavior can be used as a gate to access neuroplasticity, which can help individuals improve their ability to learn, remember, and unlearn emotional experiences. He also explains the different types of neuroplasticity and how they can be targeted through specific protocols.+

7. Types of Plasticity

Andrew explains how our internal representation of the outside world is created through maps of auditory, visual, and motor space. He discusses the importance of creating mismatches or errors in our performance to create neuroplasticity, which is highly underappreciated.+

8. Errors Not Flow Trigger Plasticity

Andrew explains how making errors triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that signal neural circuits to change and create an environment for learning. He discusses classic experiments that highlight the importance of making errors for neuroplasticity, and distinguishes between flow and learning. Andrew also emphasizes the role of motor and vestibular programs in setting the stage for learning other skills.+

9. Mechanisms of Plasticity

Andrew discusses the concept of neuroplasticity in adults, explaining how the brain's ability to change in response to experience tapers off after age 25. He also touches on the differences between plasticity in younger individuals and adults.+

10. What to learn when you are young

Andrew recommends getting a broad education and finding a passion to enhance your brain. He also discusses the natural conditions that allow for neuroplasticity and the importance of deploying chemicals in the nervous system to mark nerve cells for change.+

11. Neural Maps Alignment

Andrew explains how our nervous system aligns our maps of visual, auditory, and motor space to function in a fluid way. He also discusses the plasticity of these maps and how they can shift through specific rules. Eric Newton's experiment on prism glasses that shift the visual field is highlighted as a fundamental work in the field of neuroplasticity.+

12. Wearing Prisms On Your Face

Andrew explains how our brains can adjust to distorted visual stimuli, such as wearing prism glasses or glasses that invert the visual world. Young individuals can adjust their motor behavior within a day or two, while older individuals may take longer or never adjust at all. This experiment shows the capacity for neuroplasticity in our perception of the outside world.+

13. The KEY Trigger Plasticity

Andrew explains that making errors is crucial to neuroplasticity and learning. Errors signal to the nervous system that something is not working, which leads to changes in behavior. The feedback from errors releases neurotransmitters like epinephrine, acetylcholine, and dopamine, which allow for plastic changes to occur quickly. Frustration and quitting are the worst things to do because acetylcholine creates an opportunity to focus on the error margin and make changes.+

14. Adult Learning

Andrew explains how frustration can be leveraged to engage neuroplasticity mechanisms for adult learning. Continuing to drill into a process to the point of frustration, but then staying with that process for a little bit longer is the most important thing for adult learning.+

15. Incremental Learning

Andrew discusses the importance of incremental learning in adults and how the nervous system can tolerate smaller and smaller errors over time. He emphasizes the need for smaller bouts of focused learning for smaller bits of information, as opposed to trying to learn a lot of information in one learning bout.+

16. Huberman Free Throws

Andrew explains how errors are the gate to plasticity and how the circuits for auditory, visual, and motor teach themselves. He also highlights the two aspects of plasticity: geared towards the specific thing you are trying to learn and states of mind and body that allow us to access plasticity.+

17. Incremental Learning

Andrew explains how incremental learning works by signaling to the nervous system the component that needs to change. Short learning bouts of 7-30 minutes are essential for the nervous system to inspire plasticity.+

18. Neuroplasticity and Incentives

Andrew discusses a study that shows how the rate and magnitude of neuroplasticity in adults is determined by the importance of the task at hand. The study found that the nervous system has the capacity to change quickly and to a great extent at any stage of life, provided that there is a serious incentive for the plasticity to occur.+

19. Addiction

Andrew discusses how the neurochemical system can help people change their behavior and create plasticity. He explains how incremental learning can create a huge degree of plasticity as an adult and how certain behaviors liberate particular categories of chemicals that allow us to make the most of incremental learning.+

20. Accelerating Neuroplasticity

Andrew explains how to accelerate neuroplasticity by completing a task repetitively and making errors within a 7-30 minute learning bout. He also discusses the learning cycles and how to tap into neuroplasticity through them.+

21. Bad Events

Andrew discusses how our nervous system processes negative experiences and how they can be uncoupled from the emotional load. He also talks about how dopamine is released when we think we're on the right path towards an external goal, which can help increase neuroplasticity and motivation.+

22. Surprise!

Andrew suggests that by attaching dopamine to the process of making errors, we can accelerate the neuroplasticity of the brain, which enhances the rate of learning.+

23. Accelerating Plasticity

Andrew explains how subjectively associating the experience of making failures with something good and telling ourselves that those failures are good for learning creates an outsized effect on the rate of plasticity, accelerating it.+

24. HOW to release dopamine

Andrew explains the subjective nature of dopamine and how it can be released according to what we subjectively believe is good for us. He also emphasizes the importance of making errors and how it can be a source of accelerated learning.+

25. Learning as a Child

Andrew explains that children's brains are like being on performance enhancing drugs, with natural healthy neurochemicals that afford them a lot more learning than adults. He advises young people to learn as much as they can about as many things as possible and specialize in something.+

26. Timing Your Learning

Andrew explains that finding the time of day when you have the highest mental acuity is crucial for optimal learning. By drilling through errors during this time, you create the optimal neurochemical milieu for learning.+

27. (Chem)Trails of Neuroplasticity

Andrew explains how engaging in physical activities such as playing tennis or shooting free throws can create a heightened state of learning and retention for cognitive information. These activities tap into basic mechanisms of neuroplasticity, allowing us to powerfully access these states of error.+

28. Unlocking Neuroplasticity

Andrew discusses how balance, the vestibular system, and autonomic arousal can unlock neuroplasticity. He explains the importance of each topic and how they work together to enhance brain function.+

29. Understanding Limbic Friction

Understanding Limbic Friction:Andrew explains the concept of Limbic Friction, a nuanced and mechanistic term that describes the struggle to control our autonomic nervous system when we're either too alert or too tired. This is important to understand when accessing neuroplasticity, which requires components of focus.+
Improving Focus:Andrew discusses how to improve focus by adjusting your level of arousal. He explains how to calm yourself down when you're too anxious and how to wake yourself up when you're too tired. Andrew shares techniques like the double inhale exhale and superoxygenation breathing to help regulate your autonomic arousal.+

30. Learning and the Vestibular System

Andrew discusses the importance of engaging in behaviors that bring you to the starting line in order to learn, and how the vestibular system plays a role in learning better and faster, especially for those involved in high dimensional skill activity.+

31. Balance

Andrew explains how accessing the vestibular system through activities like gymnastics can enhance neuroplasticity. He breaks down the three main planes of movement and how the semicircular canals in our inner ear play a crucial role in our balance and perception of gravity.+

32. Cerebellum

Andrew explains how disrupting the vestibular motor relationship can release neurochemicals in the brain, leading to a state that makes learning easier and errors more pleasurable. This can be achieved by calibrating the cerebellum and ensuring the correct level of autonomic arousal before starting the learning bout.+

33. Learning through Errors

Andrew explains that engaging the vestibular system and creating errors within motor operations can lead to a neurochemical state that enhances learning. Regularly performing a particular motor behavior and trying novel behaviors can help achieve this state.+

34. Novelty and Instability Are Key

Andrew explains how bringing novelty to the vestibular motor experience can open up neuroplasticity for learning. He emphasizes the importance of exploring the sensory motor vestibular space in safe ways to create a sense of novelty relative to gravity.+

35. How to Arrive At Learning

Andrew explains the four things that you need to do for accelerated plasticity as an adult, including arriving at the appropriate level of autonomic arousal, making errors, the vestibular motor sensory relationship, and setting a contingency. These also apply to young people, who move a lot in different dimensions.+

36. Engaging Neuroplasticity

Andrew discusses the relationship between movement and neuroplasticity, emphasizing the importance of engaging in novel movements that challenge the vestibular system. He suggests that as we age, we tend to engage in less varied movements, which can lead to reduced neuroplasticity. Andrew highlights the benefits of load-bearing exercise, resistance training, and activities like surfing that require orienting the body differently according to the gravitational pole.+

37. Boosting Neuroplasticity

Andrew discusses the limits of neuroplasticity and the lack of shortcuts to learning. He explores the effects of nootropics on the brain and suggests behavioral tools and ways of structuring learning bouts that can help access more plasticity regardless of age. Andrew also touches on the vestibular system and its role in neuroplasticity.+

38. Yoga versus Science

Andrew discusses the similarities between science and yoga, and the importance of understanding the mechanisms behind practices like neuroplasticity and sleep. By bridging the gaps between these disciplines, we can gain a common understanding of how to access these states and adapt to changing circumstances.+

39. Closing Remarks

Enhancing Neuroplasticity:Andrew discusses the various ways to enhance neuroplasticity, including the use of supplements. He emphasizes the importance of behavioral practices and tailoring foundational mechanisms to suit individual learning needs. Listeners are encouraged to subscribe and leave feedback to support the podcast.+
Neuroplasticity Supplements:Andrew Huberman discusses his partnership with Thorne and the supplements he takes to enhance the nervous system. He emphasizes that supplements should not be the first line of entry for enhancing the nervous system. In the next episode, he will continue to explore Neuroplasticity.+