How Smart Phones Alter Dopamine

In our digital era, there’s a pervasive tendency to be constantly connected, often driven by the dopamine release associated with the use of smartphones, social media, and other stimulant sources like energy drinks or study drugs. 

Yet, Huberman warns that while these sources initially increase pleasure, their overuse can lead to a decline in the enjoyment of activities that once brought joy. 

Moreover, this mechanistic approach to dopamine regulation may disrupt our natural ability to find satisfaction in various aspects of life.

One of the profound messages from Huberman’s discussion is the recommendation to periodically disengage from dopaminergic stimuli linked with routine activities. For instance, he suggests refraining from using your phone during workouts. 

This disengagement is challenging at first, but it can rekindle the inherent pleasure of these activities once your dopamine baseline stabilizes. 

Huberman shares his personal journey of overcoming the struggle to disconnect, which eventually led him to experience a greater sense of pleasure and accomplishment.

Huberman also delves into the complexity of substance use, especially stimulants that are often sought for their performance-enhancing effects. 

He differentiates caffeine from other stimulants, highlighting its potential ability to upregulate dopamine receptors and therefore, enhance the effectiveness of naturally occurring dopamine. 

However, he cautions against the regular use of other stimulants, such as energy drinks or medications like Adderall and Ritalin, for non-clinical purposes. 

These substances artificially boost dopamine levels, which over time can deplete the neurotransmitter, diminishing the rewarding aspects of activities and compromising motivation and focus.

To optimally maintain motivation and enjoyment, Huberman emphasizes the importance of intermittent rather than continuous stimulant consumption to avoid dopamine depletion.

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Links

Review on Dopamine: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41583-021-00455-7Cold Exposure & Dopamine: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s004210050065

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