Ep3 - Nootropics and other biohacking with Smart Drug Smarts’ Jesse Lawler

Biohacker Jesse Lawler joins us to talk about plasticity, fasting, how important dark chocolate is to him, and different ways to eat including Intermitten Fasting.  We also look at some of Jesse’s QEEG brain maps.

Subscribe and listen on major platform

Biohacker Jesse Lawler joins us to talk about plasticity, fasting, how important dark chocolate is to him, and different ways to eat including Intermitten Fasting.  We also look at some of Jesse’s QEEG brain maps.

welcome to head first with dr. hill this is one of the first episodes of our
brand-new video podcast and we are pleased to welcome to the show today Jesse Lawler of smart drug smarts a
podcast and I’ve actually been a guest on a few times so thanks for having me yeah thanks for coming down and visiting
the studio we actually spent a few hours earlier today in our office over at peak brain mapping Jesse’s brain and for
those folks who don’t know Jesse’s a bio hacker extraordinaire and it tends to keep his fingers in lots of different
pies throughout the biohacking space true and you have a lot of guests come
through your own show yeah so I want you to you know let the you can introduce yourself to our viewing audience sure
well yeah I started my podcast probably about the same time we met you or one of my early guys and yeah I’m a software
developer by training that sort of you know what I put on my tax returns when I filed them and yeah as a software
developer I heard probably about ten years ago sort of the concept of smart drugs always something called provigil
or modafinil but I first heard about which was kind of it the first time I’d ever been exposed to the idea that there
might be substances you can put into your body that make your brain work better in some senses rather than worse and that just you know got my curiosity
and you always as a software developer you’re looking for ways to kind of Neil walking your attention for an extended
period of time really kind of put on the the mental blinders and so yeah that piqued my curiosity I wound up ordering
some you know I guess you know licit modafinil from their canadian pharmacy this was you know back in probably
2005-2006 and you could still do that yeah back when you can still do that now it’s coming from India rather than
Canada typically but um yeah anyway that’s started me down the road sort of is am I guess a practitioner yeah and
then about three years ago started actually calling up people like yourself neuroscientists and researchers at different academic institutions and
stuff like that and I’m just learning everything that I could about this and sort of doing it in the public context so we’re coming up on almost four years
that we’ve had the podcast now on earth and forty some guests it’s pretty good I what’s one of your earlier ones I mean I
think we had just launched true brain yeah maybe three four months after we launched we were we met that was I think
the first podcast I did of all did pod Cal so I’ve done 50 or 60 or 70 or something now and you were the first and
the first and also I think I’ve done it I think really yeah I said we’ve had a few trifectas and you’re one of them so
people like our energy on this show they can they can dig up your old podcast exactly yeah and here a few more so you know I’m curious how does your show
involved not too much the content but like the cause of the the production but in terms of the types of things the
nootropic world is talking about now versus four years ago yeah well I mean there’s there’s a whole lot more talk I
feel like the you know if you look at like the Google Trends for the word nootropics over the course of the past
couple of years it’s just you know spiking up like you know in the Andes mountain range there’s a lot more public
awareness that these are are things that even exist I feel like probably a lot of that might might be dovetailing out of them like
the sports world where people are like you know doping in sports and like off you can dope in sports I wonder if you
can dope cognitively and in just that awareness that there’s a possibility there um a lot of people didn’t know
about it now they do and I feel like we’re still probably on the early phases of that oh sure growing public awareness
and the other thing is I mean I feel like with all the brain research that’s really getting funded it like a massive
you know public policy level at both in the US and over in Europe they’ve got I guess to almost sort of competing big
brain mapping projects going on yeah that that’s just going to be sort of spilling over much the way that like you
have the space program in the 60s and the Human Genome Project in the 90s led to you know decades and decades of you
know new inventions that would make it out into the public sphere is we’re going to be the beneficiaries of that those of us that have interest in the
brains for I think a long time to come mmm so that’s from uh you know 10,000 foot view what about your own personal
you know nootropic psycho not hacking biohacking a journey have you changed
how you do this well yeah I mean I’ve gotten exposed to a lot of ideas through the podcast I thought I hadn’t hadn’t
even heard of before I mean that continues to happen because you know new compounds are getting invented all the time and you know my first order of
business is want to hear about something news to try to find a sort of a topic expert on that area so I can see is this
something that I would you know trust in my own brain or is still y’all kind of sure stay backed off and just you know keep my ear to the ground um you know
there have been some other practices they don’t have anything to do with particular substances or chemical that like you know at this point I’m
starting an actual for about the past six months I’ve been doing a regular meditation practice of about 20 minutes
on maybe five days of the week I generally don’t get seven days a week in but I do my best to try to make it
fairly regular and I think five is okay yeah I’m hoping so and um yeah I’ve been
intermittent fasting for most of that time which is something that I wasn’t doing when I started the podcast but I’ve been hearing more and more and
you’re feeling the difference also with with some of these practices I can’t say that I felt the difference with
meditation okay yet but on the other hand that the science seems to be robust enough that if I’m wasting 20 minutes a
day then maybe that’s 20 minutes a day less sleep that I need or something like that who knows um but yeah so I’m
definitely trying out a lot of these things in my own life so you’ve course been into nootropics
yeah and other relaxation things meditation of course you’re physically active right what’s your diet like a
diet’s pretty good I mean we let of course everything is that other the question is what is what is the correct diet what what what is it for you yeah
what it is for me is I’m eating paleo plus dark chocolate dark chocolate is the one thing where I allow myself some
processed sugar just because I thought let’s not paleo well you know I mean cuz it does have chocolate in there it’s
like a you know I guess regular chocolate like a normal Hershey’s bar has even more chocolate but in the dark chocolate still has some but yeah I
figure if you’re going to cheat a little bit and then cheating on dark chocolate that’s that’s probably a pretty good choice yeah absolutely we actually did a
chocolate episode not too long ago and I was kind of like yeah there’s lots of good things some chocolate and blueberries have always been 2 of my
favorite foods and it turns out that both of those have some some good yeah cognitive benefits so I was I was happy to hear about that I haven’t done like
the cheese puffs episode and found out the cheese puffs are good for your brain that would be yeah I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen and of course you
know Gary wouldn’t be allowed in your in your paleo right yeah I’m pretty similar I do primal essentially which sees me for those who
don’t know is paleo and plus dairy right effectively yeah I mean there’s so many
sort of fine grained distinctions like you know the Pesce vegan and stuff oh my god begin plus some fish and things like
that but yeah i’m i think at the times i started the podcast i just switched over from being a vegan for about seven years
into doing paleo and i felt good on both of them i mean i just something I’d love your thoughts on
I have this weird suspicion I guess at what might be best
nutritionally for a person’s brain during their younger years maybe up to the point where you normally probably
would have been dying as a caveman yep might not be the same as what’s really good for long long long mmmm you’re
going to make it to 80 90 100 years old a lot of the evidence for a vegan or
very close to vegan diet in super old age seems to be really strong and yet I’m pretty persuaded also by the other
health benefits of more of a paleo or primal diet during a person’s younger years you learn thoughts on this I have
a couple thoughts one is just a general comment that extreme diets tend to
adjust behavior and so it doesn’t for some people you can get a benefit be it in you know body fat or energy simply by
paying attention and by being somewhat rigorous yeah and so I think some people who adopt a vegan or vegetarian or paleo
or primal or whatever diet feel incredible because it’s the first time they’ve really borne down and paid attention to what’s going in their mouth
that’s a great point the other thing is I think that the research would suggest
at an old age the biggest things you need to do our control inflammation and control blood sort blood sugar spikes
it’s a little easier to control blood sugar spikes with a high-fat high-protein diet it’s a little hard to
control blood sugar spikes with a high starch diet and so if you’re vegan you
can get into too much starts too easily I think and you can go too low protein too easily right but I doesn’t mean you’re doing a vegan right I mean that’s
sort of like the the typical way people fail at being vegan is not getting enough nutrition yeah but if it’s a
vertically a perfect vegan who’s getting all their nutrition I don’t think it matters all that much as long as you
aren’t spiking your blood sugar repeatedly as long as you’re getting enough fuel in to keep the system sort of happy yeah that’s one thing I mean as
a vegan I was pretty much unlike the fruitarian into the spectrum I wasn’t eating a huge amount of um like you know
heavy carbs yeah I’m using simple sugars but yeah I would have to came but all the banana route goes so that’s less of
a blood sugar spike yeah yes yeah which yeah I’ve been experimenting some over
the course of the past couple years with um ketosis ketogenic diet also and I found that it’s interesting
but it’s hard for me to stick with because I am such a big fruit fan sure sure I’m wondering now like my long term
you know goal might be to maybe do ketogenic diet for like four months of the year during the winter months and then you’ll go back on to allowing
myself fruits and stuff during the summer yeah I can still rotate with the year in terms of what’s often accessible in your air in your neighborhood or your
local area that helps some people do eat that way and stay so in tune with the seasons there may be something there much what the research suggests it’s
hard to say I mean like it doesn’t it doesn’t make sense to me intuitively that that would be that big of a deal because like you know you and I are
northern European stock so you know our ancestors probably were exposed to you know summers and winters that
substantially different but if somebody was you know growing up or later their ancestors were closer to the equator
kind of an equatorial belt I mean was there that much difference between summer and winter probably not probably
not and but they’re also may been dramatic differences in diet based on subtle differences in ethnic you know
right cultural backgrounds or regions I mean some traditional people today eat
mostly fats proteins other traditional people’s eat nothing but starch and
they’re all healthy so it doesn’t seem to be any particular extreme diet causes a problem unless you add all of the sort
of diseases of Technology all the you know severely high refined sugars and oxidized fats and all those sorts of
things that we get in our processed foods right I think that’s the big the big issue let me ask you what about intermittent fasting yeah yeah
so different fasting of course is fasting every so often how well I mean
daily but yeah for a chunk of the day okay so you eat in the morning and fast rest of the day or by some actually the
way that I do it is I give myself like a seven hour eating window okay between 4:00 p.m. and 11 p.m. okay and typically
I’ll go to bed like midnight or 1:00 so I’m almost up till bedtime I allow myself to to eat but um but yeah so 17
hours off seven hours on is the way that breaks down for me okay so eating later in to closer to your bedtime means
you’re going to be having a probably an enhanced growth hormone release yeah at night which is nice very cool so uh you
might be interested there’s a part of the resveratrol science yeah yeah it was a virtual seems to activate
team that causes anti-aging in the same gene that is activated by intermittent fasting that’s the same gene that’s
intimate it’s activated by caloric restriction yeah by cold stress by this basically this the signal of danger or
hormesis uh-huh right hormesis used to be the sort of very whoo-whoo term we
weren’t sure if actually it ever really rest now we know that yes small danger
signals or pressures or toxins cause a healing response or a growth response in cells yeah and they see it almost everywhere
they look but sometimes you need to look for a very very very small dosage to be
really see that the example uptrend yeah where it becomes a downtrend yeah exactly and some things get in the way
of that like like oral antioxidants if you take too many pills a Stan T
oxidants you remove the hormetic stress on the mitochondria they don’t self-destruct when they’re damaged and
the free radical load goes way way up by taking oral Antioch interesting you can
kind of sort of get in trouble by just thinking of this pure black and white terms like shutting down yeah oxidants I wanted to draw your
attention there’s a new compound out there that seems to actually not newish but it’s but in terms of it affecting
aging there’s a new compound or some new findings of a compound called alpha key to glitter rate and if you’re a
weightlifter or you’ve done some work you may have seen this compound before because it’s been in workout things for many years it seems to activate
anti-aging things more than we have our trawl and it’s the first time we’ve seen a mechanism that actually does not use
the search genes it’s a completely other sort of set of anti-aging compounds so if you give a C elegans worm caloric
restriction or cold stress and other mechanisms that activate certain one they live longer but they do so moving
in a very very slow sedentary you know app asleep not the kind of life you want no no if you give them a flick util
iterate their lifespan is extended by 50% and they slip around the dish the whole time having fun Wow alpha QT
literates involved in the Krebs cycle yeah so it’s involved so like nad NADH reductions and then alpha keel iterate
punching the circle if you will of ATP and ADP around the around the krebs cycle right so we I think the theory is
that you’re actually goosing energy production in a way that is very good for the cell so it actually causes less stress the
animals live longer I guess the question asked is is there a downside is there you know any any you know so for life
probably not as far as I can tell probably not I mean I mean this is a brand new ending if a mine was involved
the research at UCLA a few years ago and they found that oh my gosh it does look like it extends lifespan and model
organisms profoundly more than resveratrol does which is exciting yeah and it does so without the same drop of
metabolism that most of the other things do so far that says that’s all we know but weight lifters have been swearing by
AKG for years as a pre-workout post-workout recovery so you know bro
science isn’t always legitimate science but there’s also a lot of self experimentation goes on right and those
weight lifting communities every so often I think they probably hit on things that are really actually quite valid I’m guessing this is one of those
things is a reason that it’s in these pre workouts yeah I mean I think the great thing about bro science is it sort
of shines a flashlight on hey this might be worth checking out in a big real study yeah absolutely having sort of you
know the general public involved in just kind of like hey look over here look over here look over here I mean that
does something that I think is a help to big science certainly I mean big science tends to be the what’s sill metaphor
well you look for your keys under the spotlight because that’s the light is not lost your keys that’s what science
does it says well we have light pointing here mean I mean our tools or methodology yes I’m gonna look here for answers and the bro science you know are
asking questions that legitimate scientists would never think to ask right or want to ask be caught dead asking and if suddenly there’s a fax
showing up in you know body mass or energy or mood that does draw a lot of attention to hey we maybe we should be
looking over there yeah so you mentioned they did like I guess flatworm studies have they done you know higher animals
at all like you know getting up into the mouse’s eye mice don’t think so but but but C elegans they’re clock genes are
timing genes are pretty much conserved through mammals yeah so I’m a friend that works on in C elegans dr. Allison
friend at UCLA and she’s mostly looking at timing how they turn off and on time
right in their body so they go through a period of sort of insulation they go
quiescent for a while wrapped themselves in a sheath plug up their shell and then
create a new shell and leave the old shell behind sort of casings yeah yeah but it looks
very much like a hibernation phase it has a lot of the same active sort of secondary downstream genes that mammals
seem to use when going through periods of wake and sleep so the C elegans clock genes seem to me a model for higher
organisms timing yeah it does seem you can serve at least you know pretty well across other organisms we don’t yet know
we’re still understanding how this stuff works but no I’ve not seen other higher-level organisms but you know my studies only
translate to humans about nine or ten percent of the time yeah I think C elegans studies are actually almost that
good really yeah so 9 percent in terms of psychiatric or yeah or a brain stuff huh it’s at most a 10 percent transfer
rate from a mouse finding to a human fight wow I didn’t realize it was quite that miserably well it’s really low and it’s often missed and people you know
you see these clickbait headlines that are about Mouse studies they’re really not all that interesting so why the hell
did they do it I mean for nine percent it almost doesn’t seem worth the trouble ethics you know you start with the lowest complexity organism you can to
look for an effect yeah then you move up the chain to make sure effect still lasts and so the my studies probably weren’t
the first study done on a specific compound they were we’re done in silica or the c elegans or a yeast or something
and then you move it to a mammal you know rat or a mouse gone are the days we
start with mice and gone are the days where we look for higher organisms like cats and dogs and pigs and things and
less the reason to I mean you’re going to study language acquisition in a Drosophila you know yeah exactly I mean
there’s just not relevant but you can study time and and the way the the
cellular molecular mechanisms of time in a worm because they have the same kind of turning off and on different cycles
the same way humans do yeah so very cool so where is your sugar on these days
you’re still running this Margaret from our podcast of course yeah yeah I mean guy I’ve got probably you know 50 things
that I would love to do episodes about that we haven’t actually you know found the right expert yet or just you know having gotten a schedule so I’m yeah I
think we’re nowhere near running out of topic so we’ve been doing them a couple of ongoing series things we sort of come
back to we’ve been doing it a no you’re in Oh transmitter series that every 10 episodes or so like we’ve done one on
dopamine we did one on norepinephrine and um you know as you know the number of Euro transmitters and your own
modulators that are out there writing a lot of boxes to continue to check off um
yeah there’s I think no lack of things that we want to cover so what’s some topics that you’re super excited about
but haven’t yet got any traction arms you wonder what they like the great white sharks are for you here I there’s
a couple of compounds that are better known in Russia than they are in the US that it’s just been hard trying to find
an english-speaking domain expert on the you can see macular if you like and seem actually exactly that those are two of
them that yeah right now we still are kind of hunting down have you tried those I no I have not
yeah I haven’t either generally it is kinda like until I could talk with somebody about it I’m a little bit gun shy with my own brain you know only have
don’t have a spare yes yeah I have the same perspective I also tend not to be excited about things that I have to inject right alright and so
for me you know I mean I wouldn’t as a sort of person that produces or designs new type of compounds
I would never design for the public something didn’t have many many years of safety yes yeah but for me personally
I’m willing to be a little more experimental but I do draw the line at injecting things I mean yeah I don’t
need and also I am a little suspicious of peptides and I think these things are peptides yeah as you know peptides are
neurotransmitters themselves peptides tend to act earlier in regulatory chains
than classic ligand neurotransmitters so they’re often like an earlier step of regulation right and so the earlier you
intervene in the brain so to speak I think the larger likelihood of side-effects interesting like for instance new
pepto’s of the peptide like structure it’s not really a race at am like piracetam of people you know consider
them related because they want to arrive from the other but new pepped has pretty dramatic side effects if you go up and
dose a tiny bit you lose your short-term memory Wow temporarily yeah it’s not a not a long-term effect the tiny
increases of dose beyond what you personally can use is an anti nootropic right so it can produce these weird side
effects and so I’m personally a little hesitant to go after things that are in the peptide side of things for
neuromodulation at least yeah and especially because it’s really hard to you know get the public off the idea that if a
little bits good you know somewhat more is going to be better it’s like that you know that getting that bell-shaped curve kind of you know beat in people’s heads
that like there is a a drop-off in positive effects and things is really both important and difficult there is I
mean you know one example of a common peptides a couple neuro peptides the most among the two best known are
vasopressin and oxytocin right right vasopressin in the brain is used for
circadian rhythm entrainment learning and memory and some in some different ways and pair bonding too right that’s
more oxytocin okay but they are related are interrelated yeah is oppressing and oxytocin are interrelated basic
prescient is released or it’s involved in this in the sexually dimorphic area
of the hypothalamus so it isn’t it is a mating thing at least partially oh that’s more oxytocin for most most
things we know about but vasopressin in the body is called ADH antidiuretic hormone it’s what the kidneys use to
suck water out of your bloodstream right and so if you don’t make vasopressin you pee a lot then you actually go through your whole body weight in water
potentially every day Wow this is a experimental animal called a Brattleboro rat out of I think Brattleboro Vermont
yeah who doesn’t make vasopressin and they literally drink their body weight in water or more every day that’s like I
started to be continually you know cycling through walking like a racehorse without actually being a racehorse and so you can get human or synthetic
vasopressin um it’s used for bedwetting and you get little melt-aways or little
inhalers I think the synthetic forms called ddavp which is just space and press into a synthetic vasopressin yeah
salespeople use this as a nootropic you take a little hit of the inhaler before going into a meeting and you’re on you
can remember all your details your very very sharp yeah but it causes like water retention and bloating so you know
there’s one example of if you have a peptide a little bit’s okay yeah i had a lot of your of your razor press in a press energy
signaling going on you’d stop peeing you start getting water it’d be pretty dramatically problematic you know just
an example of how we know a peptide works we don’t we know very very little about the brain still unfortunately you know learn more all the time we are so
those are things you’re interested in I guess getting experts on what about the things you’re interested in trying yourself or other biohacking
approaches I’m interested in trying alternate day fasting actually um yeah I’ve read
enough to be curious about overall caloric restriction as a strategy but I also know that um you know a I like to
eat sure and um yeah so I’m just wondering if maybe going like one day on one day off because I I do generally even when I
eat a healthy diet I feel mentally sharper when there’s no food in my belly yeah that’s just that’s one of the reasons that I set my intermittent
fasting window fairly late in the day at 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. because that way I can get you know a full day’s work in before
ever yeah the first food hits my mouth um but yeah I’m wondering if alternate day fasting might be something that
would be useful for me that I also read something recently um on intermittent fasting in particular that it tends to
up regulate both dopamine and serotonin so a little bit more motivation a little bit more you know feel good mood
chemicals yeah and so yeah I’m just wondering if you know extending that window from 17 hours to about you know
32 hours or what it would be if I waited until the following morning might have even more you know follow-on good
effects probably would if I had to guess I mean just because it’ll make your insulin more sensitive so the very least your insulin will be fluctuating more in
response to energy demands yeah which is really a healthy thing to happen I mean I used to do years ago when I first
started packing diet not as much was known this is 25 years ago or something
and I started doing a form of a lowish
carb I think the name of the program was like natural hormone enhancement or something and it was a carb refeed so
you do very low carb very high fat high protein for like four days in a row and
then your last meal yeah of every four days was the opposite it was very low fat very low protein very high complex
carbohydrates yeah and to what you had essentially was glycogen getting burned or getting used up because you weren’t
having any carbs for three or four or five days and then you’d refeed the glycogen back into your muscles and then
that happen again and again so you keep sucking out of like a gin right replenishing it and then refeeding it
replenishing a tree feeding replenishing it interesting among other things that seems to strip away body fat faster than
any form of dieting if you will yeah it’s fairly difficult to do to go low
carb low carb oh yeah carbs and then turn right around the next day go back to low carb it’s real difficult to do yeah it’s like um you
know a problem gambler who gets to gamble on Fridays and like holes yes hard not to do it on Tuesdays if a I get
you know the Reece toked every week that’s right let’s say but hopefully it breaks the automatic behavior a little bit and gives you a more subtle so hmm
cool so we’re in a brain map on you earlier today yeah came to the office but eleven caffeine free which is great
we found out I do have a brain you do you do you know oddly enough I’ve never actually recorded a brain and not found
one did you hear about this guy in um a guy I think was France that he had some
neurological problems they went in to do a brain scan and they found out that basically had a big ball of water yeah what he had like get 5% of his brain to
shake left behind it’s ridicu and no symptoms beyond headaches and and he had a little bit like lower than average IQ
it’s like I you eighty or something but I mean for ninety five percent of his brain being gone that doesn’t seem like that bad and the residual tissue was
different the epical brain tissue the interconnectivity between neurons was dramatically higher yeah so this would
underscores the idea that the brain has more resources than we ever will need right I mean often died from this little
thought experiment which is somewhat invalid but the thought experiment is number of neurons in the brain which is
between 100 and 200 billion let’s say number of glial cells in the brain which are computational yeah there’s more
glial cells than our neurons so at least 100 or 200 million of those and every neuron can talk to every other neuron
with many processes so nearly infinite connectivity yeah a lot of zeroes there yeah if you suddenly drop back to the
simplest equation which is the information density of just the neurons so neurons raised to the power of
neurons so all neurons talking to all neurons that number is larger than the number of atoms in the universe
so there’s no upper limit of information storage in the brain yeah and it looks like we can lose 95% of our
cortex and the brain can reorganize its complexity to handle all the necessary resources yeah so that’s pretty amazing
I think that probably points this idea that we have the capacity for Supra
normal abilities yeah if we could figure out how to you know go in and tweak that
tissue in a very directed way you know one of the things that I you’re asking one of the things that I’m interested in
maybe I am now that I wasn’t you know why the podcast three or four years ago it seems like there’s a lot more buzz
around artificial intelligence being more and more of a thing and I mean of course it’s in the world all around us you know when we call up phone networks
and things like that you’re assuring them for a long time through an AI system before you get to a real human but um yeah I mean your point there
about 95 percent of the brain being almost expendable it does point to the
fact that if we could you know we don’t necessarily need to have a bigger skull to accommodate more brain tissue in
order to potentially be much more intelligent if we were using the wetware resource is more efficient and is a huge
variability to what a normal-sized head is right Tiny Tim through yeah you know under the giant it’s something like 800
CCS through 2400 CCS right that’s a normal range of adult brain volume yeah that’s three times the
there’s no way that size matters if a three time multiple has no effect on intelligence we know that from from kids
to it’s like a kid you know which kid thinks differently if it’s than an adult but like a seven-year-old isn’t like you
know just an intellectual dwarf compared to an adult human I mean we know that’s not the case and very young kids have
more brain cells than adults right dramatically more because the brains haven’t pruned the circuits out yet there was um I think it was sperm whales
or something like that that had the biggest brains like by volume by mass in the animal world dolphins have more gyri
and sulci than humans uh if you look at all animals as you go up in complexity mean number of folds and fissures in the
brain yeah it’s really highly correlated with cognition and intelligence yeah and we are the next to top animal and that
pyramid and the only one above us is dolphin to have more gyrates outside we dramatically so yeah don’t seem to have
the same kind of intelligence as we do right but have more brain tissue more actual surface area yeah if I can turn
this question around on your like I’ve always wondered about that like what what is it about the folds of the brain that actually matter like what is that
like sort of gross level no matter it’s the amount of it’s the amount of tissue you can shove into the brain yeah so if
you took a rat or a mouse or a rabbit these creatures have what are called more a listen since alloc brain smooth
brain and higher order mammals like you and I have gyrus and phallic bumpy
brains yeah and the amount of surface area in a Giants and phallic versus listen since Alec is orders of magnitude
you know hundreds potentially higher amount of surface I took the brain of a human and spread it out it would cover a
massive massive area the cortex the actual surface of the brain and it’s really to get additional cells on board
that’s really the only reason our as we can tell and it’s the cerebellum that area sort of in the back of the brain where it looks at the surface level a
lot like the smaller fold smaller little crinkles yeah versus the rest of the brain any correlation with anything
there yeah the cerebellum is really a strange structure means little brain essentially a cerebellum contains more neurons and
all other parts of the brain combines Wow it’s really bizarre the cerebellum is a largely non conscious tissue we
think it’s involved with control mechanisms in the body a very large
extent yeah we’ve got a motor cortex across the top of the head it sends down about 20 million cells into the body to
control the motor system right 19 million of those cells stop in the cerebellum and 1 million continues down
for control 95% of the control signals used to tell the cerebellum what should happen only 5% of the signal actually
makes it out to the muscles to control them it’s a big filter and then there’s a a sending sensory fibers also synapse
from the cerebellum and to compare is what was supposed to happen what’s happening then it adjust and does the
fine-tuning of fine motor control interesting um but it’s a very strange shock the structure very much non
voluntary and from an EEG scientist perspective course yeah the cerebellum is not it all interesting because you
can’t measure EEG from the cerebellum it has no EEG why is that all of the cells
of the pyramidal neurons can point the wrong direction you can’t measure them from outside the head huh it’s a stick a
wire into the actual cerebellum to measure it’s a signature right there’s a few structures like that that when the
science gets really happy about their signet their EGS and I start rolling my eyes there is no scalp EEG for the
cerebellum there is no EEG off an amygdala yeah for instance it may vary too deep I have two pyramidal cells okay
the pyramidal neurons these pyramid-shaped neurons are the ones that in their bursting firing produces EEG gotcha
amygdala has no pyramidal cells so it cannot produce brainwaves yeah it might
be affecting other tissue that’s producing brain waves right but in you know people will occasionally say oh yes
we measure the amygdala –nz on this EEG signature and i you know they just lost me right away throw the red flag pretty much yeah
pretty so is I totally three off-track them yeah we’re going to look at my brain and yeah we should do that a little bit yeah yeah yeah so can we go
to the the screen there we go alright so I suppose there you go so you feel free
stopping any times we can sorry I don’t know what you’re going to say yeah yeah we have really gone over these in any great detail I’ve just there are one one
set of summary data up on the screen it includes some frequencies we call it delta we call it theta alpha beta hi
beta going from left to right those are slow brainwaves through fast brainwaves the top row is also labeled absolute
power and power is just means amplitude squared so we’re looking at all the amplitudes in each frequency range on
your head and this data was produced by taking your resting eyes closed baselines and compared it to a database
of several thousand people and so these maps that show these colored blobs are sort of statistical patterns about how
unusual you are Jesse compared to some background population what do we know about that background population is that
I mean most people haven’t ever had one of these done so right yeah the better the the the commercial
you data bases are called yeah a commercial product so and they’re created by heavily screened sort of
research projects almost where you recruit you know a hundred people who are below age ten how are people who are
ten to twenty one people who are twenty to thirty right and you end up with thousands of people and then you screen
them all for no diagnosis no psychiatric stuff no meds no head injuries no epilepsy and you know with a fairly you
know bland if you will set up variable brains and then you’re compared to those so I always make sure what I’m talking
in a clinical context just because you’re different than some reference population doesn’t mean something’s wrong yeah yeah it just means you’re
different you know but brains are different I mean everybody is a special snowflake when it comes to their brain and in the qejy context I consider these
Maps prognostic not diagnostic I’m guessing about what might be true based on what might be showing up in the data
yeah but if I say something that’s not true for you we don’t we don’t just believe you your experience we go oh
that’s probably not a relevant data pattern for you works a normal feature for you instead of an abnormal feature or unusual feature yeah so we’re looking
at the the top row is the most colorful it has those red blobs and the between the second and third row there’s a scale
that goes from negative three through positive three and these are what are called z-scores or essentially standard deviations nor divided by the mean of my
sample population and so we start paying attention to things that are more out of
range than one and a half standard deviations or z-scores and on these maps really that’s the darkest hour range and
the red and a few things really jump out immediately looking at this map one is there’s a fair amount of Delta and theta
brain waves which are they’re very slow brain waves and you’ve also got a fair amount of beta in the back of the head
we don’t love to see either Delta or beta with eyes closed Delta is the
slowest brainwave shimmy Delta’s the slowest brainwave frequency make a lot
of Delta when you’re deeply asleep and not dreaming but you don’t wanna make a whole lot when you’re wide awake gotcha
Delta is essentially the brainstem frequency it runs the heart the lungs all the autonomic stuff is a Delta
driven phenomena and it’s not really a cognition frequency don’t think in Del T
think in sort of fast beta low beta alpha etc but you you live your body
lives in Delta when you see Delta persistent and I also look at your eyes open maps and they’re still there when
you open your eyes when you see little persistent Delta like this it usually means especially when it’s focal like
these patterns that you’ve actually got a little bit of scar tissue what we’re seeing I think is chunks of your cortex
that were bruised or damaged you know minimally and because they’re no longer receiving quite as much input from the
surrounding tissue some of those areas aren’t quite sure what to do and they default back to the core default
frequency which is Delta so so it’s almost as if that part of my brain were kind of asleep during waking hours yeah
it’s very much like that yeah and you can sort of see if you squint there’s sort of a almost like a diagonal stripe
through your brain if you go to the back right to the left front the so this diagonal stripe I’m not sure if this is
true and again in qejy you can’t ever diagnose but this looks to me like what we’d call a coup contrecoup injury there’s really common in car accidents
when the brain is moving in the back of a car the car suddenly gets stopped in an accident yeah the brain continues to
move and bounces against the skull and so this looks to me like you may have fall and back onto the right corner of your
your head and your brain bounced around inside the skull and bruised itself the
left front corner a little bit and so I think that that’s what we’re seeing and that the theta patterns also sort of
match the Delta patterns and looking at you know your your Delta frequencies they were running a little fast they’re
not typical Delta they’re running a couple standard deviations faster than average so actually the Delta and theta
we’re seeing there is the same pattern it’s the same data right question um so
these are on the higher end of the frequency we got a few of the Reds yeah and we don’t have any of the deep blues
what what I mean if we saw the opposite end of the spectrum though yeah you saw negative two or three and yeah blue is
he scores you would be making less than average okay so we don’t usually see problems in low power there are a few
variants in brain health that are we call them low and slow meaning that your amplitude amplitudes are small and the
whole frequencies are slower than average definitely not what’s going on with you low and slow variants happen
with some forms of aging and some parts of head trauma and that and then we would see some blue but usually what
blue means is a slightly thick skull if your skulls thicker than average more the electricty attenuates and yet with
sort of low powered numbers right so it’s not usually a pathological problem till it’s fairly prevalent so we don’t
care so much about the low-power variants the high-power variant in this case we’re looking at Delta Theta and
some of the back of the head and beta these are significant enough that it’s extra activity it’s probably something
you’re aware of so in terms of what these might mean the Delta and the theta like you said might mean your brain is
kind of sleepy a little bit all the time I’m guessing you’re somewhat sleep-deprived based on this Delta if
you actually have received some head impacts and you have some Loki concussion stuff that’s you know ongoing
then you also might experience sort of a subacute a post concussive syndrome which would be cognitive fatigue
mid-afternoon and a little bit of sluggishness and a hard time waking up in the morning and some irritability
I’m guessing aren’t really experiencing this because it’s not all that dramatic it’s sort of um just a hint of this
pattern showing up right how like if I were to do nothing different than sort of my you know every everyday life yeah
and then I came back in you know let’s say two months from now and ran this how much would just do these
things change raise question Lera – here it’s a great question no I look exactly the same really as long as we got to the data yeah Emily cleanly
yeah qgs a robust stable phenomenon today a brain map and in a year a brain
map change interest unless you did something to your brain unless you took medication that was different had a head injury developed a significant
meditation practice you’re meditating 20 minutes a day yeah yeah that appears to be enough to change your brain in a few
months that interested literature does suggest 20 minutes a day is enough to get the benefits that come from meditation so yeah if you really work at
meditating you know reliably for the next few months you might see some changes and I would guess actually all
these red spots would decrease the slow brain waves get reduced because you’re more concentrated and the fast beta it
would get reduced because you’d be more relaxed so actually meditation would probably drag most of these patterns in
the right direction for you but it we very slow process yet work to get that done so other things that might be
showing up here if you go to the right hand side of the page we see some beta and high beta the high beta is really
the driver here and you see a couple little orange blobs in the back of your head about two and a half standard
deviations higher than average now this is a nice close map so the back of the
head is a visual cortex or the sensory cortex broadly and usually when you close your eyes the visual cortex goes
idle because there’s nothing a process for some people it stays very hot like
yours and that’s somebody who they’re trying to process the environment visually even with their eyes closed
just yes because they better pay attention kids don’t like me because they’ve learned the world is sometimes unpredictable yeah and they better keep
scanning because their eyes are closed they can’t tell what’s going on yeah so it’s we call it a hyper vigilance marker
meaning interesting you kind of up and I should say that anxiety markers of which
this is one are not uncommon in fact doesn’t mean you have some like anxiety disorder these means you have a brain
that tends to go into this place and also anxiety patterns tend to show up a lot with high intelligence as well so
maybe you’re just very intelligent you also might be a little vigil anxious the beta and high beta markers also suggest
potential sleep issues the high beta would suggest sleep maintenance meaning
waking up a every couple of hours throughout the night right that was actually something I was going to ask so I’m because you
mentioned that some of these might be I I could have gotten a whack on the head at some point which I must admit I if that happened it would must have been a
long time because I really don’t like to be 2530 years ago I mean yeah it’s not the reason but um you know sleep is
definitely something that I know that I’ve got a wonky sleep schedule I travel a lot night call different time zones and all that um but if I were to you
know be a good little boy and you know get my seven to nine hours of sleep every night going to bed and waking up
at the same time would that be something where I would start to you know presumably see changes in the Delta and potato regions would a few months yeah
if if this is being inflated by sleep deprivation right even a couple of weeks of reregulate in your sleep but probably
tamp this stuff down it looks very focal though it’s not sort of broad and so I think there is something going on in
terms of scar tissue those areas might have swelled up a little bit because of sleep Doug yeah I don’t think that would
go away completely if you got really well rested sure but they probably would you probably all right we would things
to clean up a little bit if you were a little more reliably slept one thing I’ll say about you know sleep hacking
what matter is much more than the amount of sleep is when you get up in the morning right because it’s about the
photo period entrainment the circadian rhythm yeah so you probably know this already but when you’re traveling and you know different time zones try to get
some light in your face in the first hour after dawn and whatever time zone you in yeah so if you land it’s 5:00
a.m. in France wait till the Sun comes up get a few minutes of light in your face then go to bed really get that
first morning light as possible because it turns on vasopressin yeah the suprachiasmatic nucleus which
tells your hypothalamus it’s morning it’s the strongest entrainment sail our brains can can use since we’re talking
about light for a second yeah where are you on the how much the wavelength of light versus just the raw intensity of
light matters I hear conflicting reports on them yeah I think it matters I think that like matters a lot you know
I use F dot Lux and my computer’s I’m not sure if that matters a whole lot of race a lot except it’s easier to the bed
because my screen is getting dark yeah but this this morning light feature is all about the temperature the frequency
of light on the suprachiasmatic nucleus which is a nucleus membranous it’s above the optic chiasm such the supra chiasm
nucleus yeah it’s a little job or lot its job to sample the frequency of light the
retina sees so your brain knows what time of day it is yeah there’s a lot of a certain temperature of light in the
air in the first hour after dawn that’s not there once the sun’s deeper in the sky most that frequency gets reflected
back into space yeah and so it does seem to be that first hour is critical for
circadian entrainment and this is why I think light boxes and other sort of light interventions aren’t quite as
effective because I really do think the temperature the the color the wavelength of the light is among the most important
things beyond the intensity yeah interesting so it makes you wonder though for people that you know live in
perpetually cloudy parts of the world where they might not necessarily have the you know did accent that that level
of sunlight regardless of what time they get out I mean I guess our body’s got a lot of redundant systems for handling games like does and services several
systems for in training time but the strongest one is the circadian you know vasopressin urge ik system if that one’s
not hit hard you can drift your circadian rhythm can drift past the Earth photo period which
is where mental health problems really start to occur see depression and suicide and things yeah so in Scandinavia is a massive increase of
suicide in the winter months when the the Sun doesn’t come up yeah in Seattle I know is famously the suicide capital
us and that’s it you know yes you mother among morning hysteria yeah what’s interesting is Portland gets more rain
than Seattle it has lower suicide and interesting I think Portland’s also awesome what was also awesome I think is
all the gluten free food and weed up there’s keeping people less depressed yeah so so lack of sunlight seems to be
a very key thing in terms of ways to adjust for that I I’m not sure if delete the literature bears this out but I’m
pretty convinced that vitamin D in the morning also must be a raiment signal because the body makes huge amounts of
vitamin D in response to the Sun evolutionarily speaking yeah 6:30 in the morning we got hit with the Sun so there
must be a vitamin D even a weak one signal for those of us like myself who supplement with vitamin gaming that is
one of the things that most people are suboptimal Wyatt yeah even lifestyle even people in Southern California spend
time in the Sun most of us are deficient in vitamin D what would you recommend I mean does it make sense to make sure you
take your vitamin D in the morning versus into I think it and I’ve never seen this valid in literature but I have a hunch
that vitamin D dosing at night can disrupt sleep yeah or at least disrupt circadian treatment make it weaker right
and so I’m all about stacking the deck I don’t know if I Timothy in the mornings better than the evening I think it is right and so that’s a good enough reason
there’s a little tiny pills I used to take it sits down on reason so you know I and I just to give it a number I
encourage people to start at about a 5,000 IU really so pretty much that’s pretty high right yeah it was a high
recommendation 20-30 years ago yeah the the sort of medicine and gerontology focus on vitamin D keeps revising upward
the upper limit and so 20-30 years ago a thousand or 2,000 IU’s was considered a high dose right now 50,000 I use is
considered a high dose okay and some elders will get a prescription of taking 10 or 20,000 IU’s yeah if their blood
levels are quite low how much would that be as far as actual sunlight I mean how long would you have to be helping the Blazing Sun to get 50,000 IU people like
you and I who are fairly pale yeah if you took your shirt off and walked around the Sun for 15 minutes you’re getting 25,000 are you really okay well
yeah yeah but it does take a little bit of skin showing for 50 or 20 minutes in fairly cloudless yeah guy which for me
is going to mean I I burn in peel and totally I’m I burst into flame and 20 minutes down so it’s all ridiculous yeah
so I’m we don’t have a lot else to say I looked over some more of your brain maps just let you know I did an analysis a year your brain compared to a database
of people that have had traumatic brain injuries yeah and you do not show a traumatic brain injury so even though I
have a hint of concussions here some wear and tear it doesn’t rise the level of a TBI yeah
and therefore probably doesn’t mean you’re any increased risk for any long-term brain issues that you know TBI is in the lead lead to sort of long term
problems often like increased Alzheimer’s increased Parkinson’s let me ask you this you know this is based
again on comparing my brain to sort of the average middle-of-the-road you know Jones’s brain you know two and a half
cars in the garage you know two and half kids all that stuff sure um if we saw somebody with like a stand out like just
an optimal brain you know you took your Albert Einstein you took your own musk whoever it is would we see them be like
a flat middle-of-the-road green or I mean or no probably not thinking no average no no because the
exceptional brains are not average right first of all and second of all exceptional intelligence comes with
brings with it lots of crap lots of issues over hours almost all these
people are OCD yeah anxious and ADHD right and maybe have other issues as
well I mean LAN musk is a brilliant man he’s not normal right he’s not typical
talking to him it’s not just his accent there’s something odd about it way he processes a show in a high performer
you’re also going to see some areas of the rides they a deep bluesy that’s true and then then the goal here is not to
make that all green yeah the goal is to identify what you care about that might be showing up in your brain activity
that can be addressed interesting so I wouldn’t say oh we must make all this green otherwise we haven’t succeeded it’s like wow do you care about your
sleep regulation your attention regulation impulsive ‘ti let’s work on those things and then we gradually see
what effects you get and change your brain I guess that’s an interesting question though it’s like if that’s the case when you see something like this
like what do you try to aim for in a therapeutic session because like I don’t necessarily like you said that some of
these might be like a some people might feel depression or like an uncommon level of anxiety I mean I feel like a
certain level of anxiety but I almost kind of feel like that’s a good day you usually want to get exact on exactly and and that sort of draws attention this
idea in is this medicine is this exercise is this cosmetic almost I’m
unlike most neurofeedback people and that I’m a neuroscientist not a psychologist or psychiatrist right and
so I’m already coming into this without a medical perspective per se I’m closer to a brain coach than a you know
therapist and so when somebody comes in I say here are the things I’m seeing we try to figure out which of them are real and the data yeah and then we identify
okay of these three or four things you know what could what would you like to work on sir ma’am should we be working
on help you feel more calm or more focused or more creative right or less obsessed or having deeper sleep or
whatever it is so the way I do neurofeedback my clients set their own goals and many of my clients want to
work on things that either aren’t showing up dramatically in the EEG or they work on some deficits and then want
to try you know pushing for superior performance right activity or access consciousness or something else so I’m
happy to try to dial in states and effects people are looking for regardless of the qg show right this just gives us a course
picture of them yeah and I talked to them about their brain we start to understand what I’m seeing it really helps me get a sense of how their brain
may work but from there we can do a lot of different things and we often do so so if I said like I you know the level
of anxiousness that I feel on a day-to-day basis now doesn’t really bother me yeah but I would love to be more creative I would love to have her
like you know light bulb insights yep what would what would the corresponding you know score that we’d be looking at
right now I’m like it wouldn’t show up in the brain map per se what I would look at the brain map is I would look for anything that would contradict entre
indicated for some of the techniques I would use to break up with your creativity I use a technique called
alpha theta neurofeedback for creativity which has been used for like 50 or 60 years it’s used for post alcoholic
recovery teaching for creativity it was used for awhile for violent offenders and prisons it works for all kinds of
amazing things but creativity is one of the biggest things that works for it can
really leave you in the middle of your stuff like if you have some backgrounds ID is not comfortable doing alpha theta
dissolves any resistance and put you right in the middle of all your stuff to give a sense for those who haven’t
experienced alpha theta what it actually feels like we basically get you to a hypnagogic state so state highway
between awake and asleep yeah and I’m sure you fall asleep at night in that liminal state you’re like oh I dia yeah
yeah and then you fall asleep and forget it right in Alpha Theta training we hold you in that liminal state for 20 or 30
minutes at a time interesting yeah and so stress drops away conscious chatter drops away ideas bubble up emotions
bubble up insight bubbles up and if you have a lot of anxiety you’re keeping just barely below the surface mm-hmm
that also is right in your face uh-huh and so it’s not so much I look at the brain maps to go what should we do for creativity work I would know that my big
tool for creativity’s alpha theta neurofeedback right and I would look to brain maps to make sure we aren’t going to knock you over in a bizarre way by
training some things up and this looks fine me I would have no concern that we would make you feel profoundly anxious with alpha theta Google so well thank
you so very much for having me my pleasure guys reaching the end of our hour thanks Jesse for being on the head first with dr. Hill vodcasts weed and
you’ll be one of our first few guests I think we’re going to can about six of these this is our second one we’re recording
all right Bob release this is the second one to and since we have six in the can or gonna start rolling them out probably next month so last election what happens
great dokie and then uh folks check out Jesse’s podcast we’ll put them in the show notes smart drug sparks and there’s
a lot of content a lot of really interesting guests you’ve had on and you know yeah – not to my own horn but three
of them were you it’s really where they besides me a lot of really great other neurofeedback people or scientists a lot
of thick really great thinkers so I encourage folks to hunt up Jesse’s a podcast and give it a listen
thank you all right folks thanks to listen to a head first Dr Hill and we’ll catch you next week

Jesse Laawler

Jesse Lawler is a pan-disciplinary enthusiast and biohacker, who has written enterprise software for beer companies, produced zombie films, been a featured speaker at business conferences, and slept outdoors at gas stations. He is curious and a do-it-yourself’er entrepreneur, and the founder of the Smart Drug Smarts podcast.