Introducing Dr. Kay Tye


Kay Tye

In a recent episode of the podcast, Huberman was honored to host Dr. K Tai, a distinguished professor of neuroscience at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. 

With an impressive background from MIT and Stanford, and currently an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Dr. Tai shared her groundbreaking research in neuroscience, particularly regarding our social behaviors and interactions.

Dr. Tai’s work has revolutionized our understanding of the amygdala, a brain region traditionally associated with fear and threat detection. She demonstrated that the amygdala also plays a crucial role in reinforcing positive behaviors and experiences related to rewards.

A focal point of our discussion was Dr. Tai’s exploration of “loneliness neurons.” These neurons are key to understanding the feeling of unfulfillment in social interactions. 

Dr. Tai also introduced the concept of social homeostasis, the balance we seek in social connections, whether we’re introverts or extroverts.

We delved into social hierarchies, discussing how individuals and animals establish social ranks, from alphas to betas, and how these dynamics influence interactions. 

An especially intriguing topic was the impact of social media and online interactions. Despite connecting with numerous individuals, these interactions often leave us feeling unsatisfied, highlighting the complexity of social connections and their effects on our mental health.

Dr. Tai’s insights into the neurochemical, neural circuit, and hormonal aspects of social interactions provided a comprehensive understanding of why certain social engagements are fulfilling, others neutral, and some depleting. 

This conversation sheds light on mental health issues like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and isolation, emphasizing the importance of healthy social interactions for mental well-being.

This episode with Dr. K Tai offers profound insights into the neuroscience behind our social lives, challenging us to think deeply about the nature of social interactions and their impact on our mental health.

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People Mentioned

  • S.M.: patient with bilateral amygdala damage
  • Harry Harlow: Psychologist, known for his social isolation experiments in monkeys
  • Markus Meister: Professor of Biological Science at Caltech
  • Ben Barres: Neuroscientist at Stanford

About this Guest

Dr. Kay Tye

Kay Tye, Ph.D. is a professor of systems neurobiology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator.

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