Future Thinkers Podcast Episode 43 - Neurogenesis with Daniel Schmachtenberger
Read Full Transcript

Mike: I’d like to go back to neurogenesis and maybe talk again about some of the more [00:02:00]   specific treatments that support neurogenesis. I’m also wondering is this work mostly being done in in the space of Alzheimer’s treatment?

Daniel: No, neurogenesis fastening field, adult neurogenesis in particular because up untill long ago it was commonly believed that we don’t generate new neurons after adulthood and that’s not true. It’s why neurogenesis is so fascinating. Our brain does continuously produce more stem cells. [00:02:30]   Most in hippocampus that then differentiate into other regions of the brain, other tissues. And that rate of neuro stem cell production can be increased or decreased by number of factors. So when we think about brain aging and also neurogenesis  isn’t just for brain aging, it’s also for dealing with traumatic brain injury and the ability that actually heals areas of brain that were damaged that has to do with increasing grey matter density [00:03:00]   and just increasing the total information processing capacity system. Also dealing with nerve damage, perepheral neuro damage or neurodegeneration. Research on our team just wrote a meta analysis of all of the research done on adult neurogenesis and it will be published soon and it’s fascinating. Our hypothesis from evolutionary biology perspective is that when you think about human genetics and what they [00:03:30]   selected for and more than anything they selected for (this is a generalised, but fair way to say it), for neurogenesis. Our genes selected for means. They selected for creature that could change themselves and their bases of acting for the course of their lives significantly from one generation to the next faster than the genes could change. And so most animals, their beheviour is pretty genetically hardwired [00:04:00]   and modulated by the environment little which is why they actually have the hardwired code to get up and do stuff in the first few minutes of life. We are [inaudible] and basically useless for so long,right? For a year and a half we can’t be anything. It’s because we are very softwired. Because as toolmakers that modify their own environment, think of that. Like, the most adaptive person ten thousand years ago, the spear thrower would be useless today [00:04:30]   because they couldn’ text, they couldn’t type and they couldn’t call an uber. So its very important that as we’re modifying the environment we can adapt to our new modified environments which means that we’re not hardwired. We could be rewiring our innate processes, right? And neurogenesis is a major part of that. So, it’s a super fascinating field for disease recovery, for anti-aging, for understanding human nature and for kind of hyper-learning capabilities. [00:05:00]   So there’s a bunch of thing that affect neurogenesis. There are these chemicals that are called neurotrophins which basically upregulate neuron production. BDNF is the most well understood one. [inaudible] neurotrophic factor, NGF for nerve growth factor. So there are things that can increase BDNF, increase NGF and normal lifestyle things like excercise is one of the ones that we know better than anything that actually increases neurogenesis. Weight lifting and hit training in particular [00:05:30]   more than aerobics or BDNF upregulating. Sleep is BDNF upregulating and lack of sleep means decreased neurogenesis. There are number of nutrients  that are also involved. THere are also some herbs and mushrooms that have very potent effect. So, you know, lions mane has been used for nerve injury for a long time and happens to very acutely elevate NGF levels. Some key nutrients like metacopolamine, max-lated from the B12 and tory [00:06:00]   in very hard doses upregulate the indogineus rate of neurogenesis. Then there are some drugs that are being developed for neurogenetic purpuses and I actually think this is the most brilliant thing a drug can do. You know i’ve said some things that we’re negative towards the pharmaceutical approaches before earlier. I wanna say some meaningly positive things are happening in all branches of pharmaceuticals largely because other areas, [00:06:30]   especially in complex disease are failing. So the cool things that are happening is not just a chemical that will try to change the level of something but the drug that will actually support the bodies ability do to something better. So I can make this point well. Think about a statin for cholesterol. If your cholesterol is high and we give you a statin to lower it, we don’t know why your cholesterol is high. Your cholesterol could be high [00:07:00]   because of diet, it can be high because of diabetes-like things, it could be high because of mold toxicity. And so just lowering it didn’t actually adress the pathology or the beheviour or whatever. So that kind of drug aproach is not that interesting and very interestingly sometimes the opposite is what need to happen. You know, if you blood pressure is high and we give you a drug to just lower your blood pressure, you just exegenously lower blood pressure. But why was the body setting that point high to begin with? [00:07:30]   If you excersice, the reason because exercise lowers blood pressure is because when you exercise it raises your blood pressure and when the blood pressure spikes even higher it actually kicks in the hormetic mechanisms.hormesises the body the bodies responds to stress. It kicks in the bodies primary mechanism “Oh, our blood pressure is to high let’s lower it on our own” and the body starts regulating blood pressure better but it actually rather than externally moving it lower, what it neede was to moved higher and then self regulations occur. [00:08:00]   So drugs that just try to move something into range without asking why it happened, without increasing the bodies ability to maintain that range not so interesting to me. Even though they’re life-saving they’re just not adequate solutions  as we move forward. Because when we move from the key most therapeutic approaches to cancer, to onchology. You know, onchology, it is the beginning of us doing anything with cancer that’s really interesting. Or actually training the bodies immunes systems capacity to kill cancer cells better. [00:08:30]   Thats actually pretty great. Well, in the neurologic space there’s a committee called neurostem. They’re working on a drug based two clinical trials now on NSI189. It was originally being developed for ALS, but now I believe that the first thing they try to approve of is major stress disorder. But for ALS they were originally working with neuro stem cells. They would grow neuro stem cells and shoot them up into the spinal chord. Either there was [00:09:00]  spinal chord injury or neurodegeneration like ALS. They were getting some results and they wanted to say : “Could we increase bodies rate of producing its own neuro stem cells so they were growing stem cells in vetro seeing if there were any molecules that would increase their own proliferation” and they found it did and decided ??9 was the primary one. So, here  it’s a drug that isn’t trying to modulate and then change chemical. [00:09:30]  It’s actually  upregulating your bodiese own regulatory process. Once you have those neuro stem cells they keep doing their thing. They become tissues and they do their regulatory thing. Now if you think about, if that drug continues to succeed, (I don’t know if it will) but there’s a whole class of them like that. It could fix nerve damage from injury, nerve damage from neuropathy, it could fix retinopathy, it could fix ALS, parkinsons. And the reason i was working in depression [00:10:00] was as they were getting upregulated production of new stem cells and the hypocampus and then that started affecting sorrounding basal structures. The person actually had more information processing capacity to process their emotions and process their experiences and they we’re getting overwhelmed and depressed by them. There’s the company called Zingup. They have a website zingup.com and they originally developed [00:10:30] ( a friend of mine over there developed it ) a set of processes that they were trying to bring about for helping autism and then what they figured out they ended up applying to performance enhancements so right now it’s a performance enhance site. But they found that they were movement patterns more than other movement patterns radicallyally upregulated neuro stem cell production and [00:11:00] specifically were growing grey matter density in the cerebellum, hippocampus but mostly cerebellum.

Mike: wow

Daniel: And that What is a must getting better depression is getting better you know they did a study in prisons and violence went down because people are overwhelmed by the amount of stimulus coming in and their emotions ecc. can process it all. Then the results of the not processed stuff is lingering, anxiety, depression, confusion and just being able to do it process it better phisiologically led to [00:11:30] you know, healthier, happier people. And so how they found to do it? I think what is a profound insight was when you first start doing a some kind of coordination activity like riding a bike or walking on a slack line or juggling that you’ve never done at first seems like almost impossible. Like, you cant even find sense if that would be possible  because you dont have neuro circuitry to do that particular kind of balance, [00:12:00] sentry coordination and stuff yet. And then as soon as you start to get it you’re like ok im not near perfect but i have this, there’s something inside of me that knows how to do this. Going from the “I have no idea how to do this” up to getting a hang of it there is a rapid rate of production of new neuro stem cells. They’re saying woah, we’re actually endangered because we can’t do this physical activity and obviously it need to happen so lets upregulate our capacity like crazy to be able to do it. Once you can do it and now you’re just getting better at [00:12:30] doing it you get that diminishing return on that. And so what they figured out to do  was how to take people through a series of excercises that they costumized and based on assessment but, in general anyone could do this. So, series of excercises that involved coordination, balance and coordinating multiple sentry motor groups. They were super difficult and as soon as you started to get a hang of it they switched into a new one. And as soon as get a hang of it and switched into a new one so you’re maximizing for the growth rate of neurogenesis. [00:13:00] Which then ended up having an effect on all kind of other things. The hypothesis there was that it has to do with automating learning. So we learn some, you know we start lerning some motor function and it’s very hard. We try to think about where our hands go, where our feet go and all these things at once and we can’t think about that many things consciously and so our brain has to try to get  some of them into unconscious memory and then we can drive with a stick shift [00:13:30] without thinking about it when at first it seems like seven different hard things to coordinate. In an evolutionary environment, us moving stuff from consciouss to unconscious, right. Conscioussly we’re trying to learn some new skills, now we can unconsciously perform it. We would’ve done that for the motor task more than anything else. And cognitive and language ecc. tasks kind of came evolutionary on top of that. So our capacity  to learn new stuff – motor tasks are going to be able to drive that evolutionary hardware [00:14:00] more specifically. That was the hypothesis and it seems to be well supported by the evidence. So if you do a bunch of sentry motor tasks that you can’t do at all and then you start to be able to do it and you do a bunch of different ones you’re actually increasing kind of the neural infrastructure for the rate of learning and automating consciouss to uncosciouss performance. And then that same infrastructure was used when you are learning [00:14:30] cognitive tasks  or interpersonal skills or anything else. So the idea was that it would increase the rate of learning and they’ve got a  bunch of research showing that happens with the case. So that’s another example of a methodology approach,right. So you’ve got drug approaches, nutrition approaches,excercise approaches, methodology approaches for neurogenesis.

Euvie: That is fascinating. I think that explains in plain terms how yoga works in and how yoga actually supports brain development just through doing [00:15:00] a series of different complex movements.

Daniel: Totally . I would say it was probably a combination of that affect that we just mentioned along with a  stress relieving effects and some of the effects of increased breath. Both increased breath on person parasympathetic function and oxygen, carbon dioxide levels.

Euvie: Very cool. What are some of the other areas that are [00:15:30] important to talk about? So now to summarise we’ve talked about the gut brain the emotional regulation we’ve talked about movement systems approaches to measuring and understanding what is going on in your body before you’re going to go and mess with it. What are some other areas of neurohacking that are really important, pillar areas?

Daniel: We could talk about altered states of consciousness yea?

Euvie: Allright!

Mike: Was waiting for that one!

Daniel: So psychedelic assisted psychotherapy, [00:16:00] psychedelic assisted spirituality, Psychedelic assisted neural repatterning-super fascinating field. Even though that field started with like people like Stanislaw Groth ecc. back in the day it has been accelerating alot recently and i’m very happy to see this. I think about the role of psychedelics and  thiA genes and human development I think about kind of three distinct categories. [00:16:30] You can use it as a personal development tool, you can use it as an interpersonal tool and as a transpersonal tool. So, as a personal tool we can talk about the role and adiction recovery. So you’ve seen the results of iva gene and 5-MeO DMT being used along with pshychoterapeutic processes for adiction recovery for people on opioids, on benzos, on all kinds of things [00:17:00] and it’s a fascinating field. It shares some things with ketamines approach to depression. So you can work with adiction, recovery, work with ptsd and end of life anxiety. These are areas where it seems to be having an effect that is either more than or different than any other therapies so it’s very fascinating. This is for working on patology. [00:17:30] For just more kind of psychoterapeutic growth. The role that psychedelics can play and shadow work and engraving parts of self is really fascinating. When you realise that we don’t  remember. When we remember memories, we don’t remember the memory we remember  how it’s consolidated in our brain factoring all the times we’ve remembered it, changed it. That’s a big insight. Because it means that if you can re-rember a memory and remember it quite differently. [00:18:00] You can actually affect how it was stored and all of the future times it will be referenced. And  so say someone is on MDMA and so they’re in a pretty euphoric state and then they think about some negative experience of their past but they can’t feel negative, they can’t think about it. So it would allways be in the past that they would think about it and feel negative,right. They had that associative condition. Now they’re thinking about it and feeling great. So, that means that the regions in the brain and the chemistry that’s involved in feeling great and that [00:18:30] specific thaught are co-wiring together. And then the next time when this person is sober they think about it and remember and it doesn’t have that same charge that is used to have on them. This can be about a traumatic memory of the past. It can also be a part of themselves they’re ashamed about or can’t love or whatever. And instantly, like i na fairly short amount of time-one or a small number of sessions radically change [00:19:00] the charge around psychological topics.

Mike: So there’s something I’ve been really interested in and thinking about in partially what I brought up. The whole idea of the gut brain and asking your gut how you feel about something because I’m trying to separate how I feel and what I think about memories and about how I look into the future. So this has been extremely useful tool for me because I separate the memory into its two components and then [00:19:30] process the emotions on their own so that I don’t have to continue feeling negatively about an event. This has worked truly well.

Daniel: Yea,cause’ you just have a memory of what happened and you have all the meaning making around it. And the meaning making can change what you still remember the event that happened. And when the meaning making changes the schematics and emotions can change accordingly. So, you experienced some event in your childhood and meaning was something about it, you’re a failure and shouldn’t try stuff [00:20:00] and whatever. And when you reprocess and say actually that’s not a realistic meaning, I was a kid and I have actually done well at those things later ecc. You can It’s still remember the event but it doesn’t have the same associated meaning about self and about reality so then it doesn’t have the same charge the fear that it’s trying to protect you from that painful possibility in the future etc. You can’t do that without a psychedelic, that just happened to be one very fast way to change that association. [00:20:30]

Euvie: Yeah I think  psychotherapy is another one and also hypnotherapy because you can induce somebody into trance and then re imprint a certain experience so that’s exactly like you were saying the processing of a changes how your brain processes that.

Daniel: So when you talk about hypnotherapy and inducing trance If I want to try and change the way that someone has stored on a memory or change their association with the phobia [00:21:00] whatever it is then want to get them into a state that is amenable to change,right.  psychedelics are a good way of doing this  largely because they actually increase neuroplasticity. So we talked about neurogenesis developing new neurons but developing new synapses and cleaning old synapses  might be even more meaningful which is what in the brain interconnect with what so old synapses that are no longer relevant get cleaved [00:21:30] mostly during deep sleep by microglia and then new synapses get developed it’s called synaptogenesis through the learning process so like that Zingup example you go from cant find it at all to find it – that’s the process of synaptic formation. And then healthy synapses that are doing something affected get  resupported through something called the long term potentiation process. It says yes this is a good synapse and I want it to keep operating automatically so lets get string setting it. [00:22:00] One of the things many psychedelics do from a neurophysiological view is increase neuroplasticity, that’s one of the best understandings of one of the things that’s happening. That would mean increased ability to actually change their structural associations with whatever you do next.  so if that’s the case it would make more sense why when someone has a bad trip it can be so last in the hard for them and when someone has a really powerful trip it can be so permanently changing for them [00:22:30] is because what was happening during that time was having mornet impact on their brain is usually capable of happening per unit time.

Mike: Right, right interesting

Daniel: So psychedelics can do that breath work right like the holotropic breathwork can create a state of increased susceptibility. You can use strobe light to try and grab specific brain wave patterns. Sleep deprivation  creates increased susceptibility which is a technique the militaries use and even some conferences use. [00:23:00] Yeah so I would say in general different forms of psychotherapy are trying to change or information processing or are meaning making or sematics or emotion. When you start to work on the brain side and the psyche side together you can get synergistically compounding effects. So think about this, this is a fun example. If you do psychedelics and then you are in a set or setting that is not appropriate [00:23:30] and you’re just freaking out. And then you kind of wire that you’re unsafe ina dangerous universe, that’s lame right?  which is why in sediment it takes the difference in matter which is the difference between just tripping and actually doing psychedelic psychotherapy or personal development. But if you take psychedelics and so now imagery is very intense and you can do better guided imagery work and you can be in some [00:24:00] image so your’re gonna go back and do some regression work – see that childhood, but when you’re visualising it you can actually visualise a sensorial and real so it’s actually rewires more powerfully, plasticity is increased and you can even do a microdose, a dose where you’re pretty much sober but plasticity has increased. Which is why people go microdosing where you can go learn new athletic capabilities or language or whatever for the sakes of learning plasticity. Say you microdose, [00:24:30] then you do psychotherapy or EEG neurofeedback or anything that’s gonna be changing neuropatterns and then afterwards you do things that chemically increase long term potentiation help lock in those new patterns so that they actually stay that would be like coli energics and there’s a handful of things that support the long term potentiation process but mostly colinergics for now. That sequence of things is going to have synergistic value beyond [00:25:00] what any of those things have on their own. Increase plasticity to change old patterns, put in input to change old patterns to new patterns, put in chemical inputs and than lock in those newly adapter patterns. So this is just starting to scratch on how interesting can neurohacking be.

Euvie: That is fascinating, I mean this kind of multi tiered approach to psychodelic therapy as opposed to tripping like you said. I wonder how this relates to the shamanic and initiatory practices [00:25:30] of the past where it was a kind of a multi tiered approach to this profound consciousness change that they were trying to achieve where on one hand you have a shaman that is guiding you then on the other hand you have the herb the psychoactive ingredient that you’re taking and then on the other hand you have some sort of stress testing so you have sleep deprivation or physical exertion or facing dangerous environments and then after the person goes through this you have the integration practices where everybody hugs [00:26:00] and you know the person comes back to the tribe and you kinda have the supportive environment that probably releases some brain chemicals for integrating this experience and retaining it. I wonder how we can take this sort of multi tier approach and apply it to modern life with better technology.

Daniel: It’s the same as you’re mentioning with what sounded like yoga had some of the similar properties to what i was saying that Zingup neuroscience. You know for 250 thousand years [00:26:30] you have give or take the same brains as we have now so there have been smart people around for a long time. And as they were paying atention to what worked and what didn’t work then they were able to apss that information down over longer periods of time they figured out stuff that worked. And so there’s certainly some stuff in the ancient traditions where we figured out much better stuff and their methods are still meaningfull in ways where there’s nothing in modern life like them and obviously [00:27:00] the integration of understanding or evolutionary biology  and just our biology of ancient past  understanding what the ancient wisdom cultures figured out that was meaningful  and then being able to not override that bad to enhance their with what we know and are going to know from all of the disciplines of science and in advancing technology and exponential technology  is a right integrative approach.

Euvie: So, In your [00:27:30] opinion which aspects of this kind of shamanic initiation practices do we have today that we can enhance with modern technology and what are the aspects that we have seemingly lost that should be brought back or kept as in the same way that they were doing it in before?

Daniel: Allright, let’s start with things that some wisdom cultures, indigenous cultures had and I don’t want to over romanticize that their versions of these were perfect or that all cultures had them [00:28:00] there is a whole mix of things. But there’s some meaningfull stuff that we have lost and needs to be incorporated in some way.  Rites of passage as an example. So the rite of passage there were many different rites of passage that happened you know in childhood when a child became self-sufficient and in some way it can be a right of Passage to recognise them. Sometimes they get  a different name at that point. Rite of passage of puberty and acknowledging what that meant. [00:28:30] Our children growing up through puberty are experiencing their interests change, our body change, there’s so many things we just don’t do anything to acknowledge it and what we do to acknowledge that usually just makes things worse,right? We show them videos of gonorrhea and call it “sex ed”

Euvie: haha

Daniel:All the rites of passage, the rite of passage of women in menopause. I have a friend that is one of the top evolutionary biologist and he was saying that in his assesment [00:29:00] one of the interesting ways to assess the wisdome of a culture is role of post menopausal women and the leadership of that culture. And then women after menopause who can’t give birth who can’t make more babies but who are still wired towards evolutionary wiring towards mothering  have a unique capacity that neither premenopausal women or men have  which is to be able to hold on mothering energy towards the whole. [00:29:30] Its when you have young kids age can still be easy, to be a little self centered to you and your kids. But when you don’t have young kids anymore and yet you still have a mothering energy to be able to hold the whole that’s what hurts the whole tribe or expensively the biosphere ecc.. So that’s a rite of passage that we mostly just think of just a “bummer, she need botox now” rather than any meaningful kind of things. How we just understand life and the phases of life, [00:30:00] roles, rites of passage. Pretty much all of the wisdome cultures did something better than we do and I don’t mean there was nothign barbaric but there was some really beautiful things too. That’s one example. Another example was they understood that there is a difference between comfort and happiness and they understood that happiness often times required things that were resilient to discomfort and here’s my narative for this: [00:30:30] After the scientific revolution science is just awesome for some many things but one of the challenges became so what’s real is what’s measurable and if something isn’t measurable we can’t do anything really with it and comfort was in easier to measure things then happiness was. We can kind of objectively measure how comfortable matrasses were and how good the shock systems in cars were and transport and be able to measure in those ways. [00:31:00] But measuring individual human happiness is a  much trickier thing to do. You can see how much people have physical comforts now, even average people that kings didn’t have in the past and yet we have rampant mental illness that we also didn’t have in the past. One of the interesting things you can know is the most wisdome cultures had practices that they intentionally induced meaningful discomfort to teach people to be resillient [00:31:30] emotionally in this discomfort. So when you think about what a sweat lodge was or the vision quest was or even what yoga is. Like yoga, I’m not saying this is all yoga is but just thing about yoga as get in a really awkward pose and then find your breath and find peace and then get in another really awkward pose and find breathe and find peace  and get bent under shape in all these different ways and realise that wherever you are you can find [00:32:00] equinimity, find peace. You’re actually somatically imprinting that no matter what kind of position you put into you can find your breathe and peace and any of them

Euvie: That’s an amazing insight,haha.

Daniel: People learn that their inner state doesn’s have to be affected by the environment as much. That leads to more resillient happy people as you have people that are only focused on making their environment as comfortable as possible and you get people who are profoundly unresillient [00:32:30] psychologically. So this is another thing that i would say wisdome cultures had  tha we largelly lost, the distinction between comfort and happiness and importance of otpimising for happines so we don’t actually have alot of real suffering, you have to actually just induce non damaging discomfort. That’s another example of whats really not part of our wisdome. There are so many things. If you think about [00:33:00] the fact that they were all hundred and fifty person tribes, right, dunbar number of tribes. From an attachment theory point of view you had a secure attachment to a hunded and fifty people. Those people weren’t leaving no matter what and so you didn’t grow up and were all alone in the world and tried to find all of your secure attachment in one person called the romantic partner and then completely freak out if they don’t wanna be with you. Because you actually had really secure attatchments across alot of people [00:33:30] and so again, modern life, nuclear family homes, private balance sheets, people are very lonely and very disconnected and very overwhelmed and trying to meet their social, connection and attachment needs in way to few of places. So we could do a whole show on what aspects of indogeneus systems need to be incorporated in the modern world without regressing. We’re not talking about taking up [00:34:00] technology, we’re talking about reincorporating some things that were lost in the transition to a new kind of world structure that is different and better than either modern of premodern.

Euvie: Right, so on the other side of the spectrum, what are the things that the ancient cultures figured out that we can actually do better or enhance with currently available technology?

Daniel: So many things [00:34:30] so for instance let’s take diabetic medicine for Chinese medicine or any ancient system of medicine. They were developed with some people, right? And so even if they were amazing at that time  they were going to apply to the genetics of those people and the kinds of things in their environment and health issues they face, so for instance I happen to have a celiac, [00:35:00]  genetic predisposition to gluten intolerance. I had some pretty severe gut issues that i didn’t know what it was about when i was about 18. I went to see some of the top ayurvedic doctors in the world and they have had helpet alot of people i knew, they saved my moms life when medical doctors had diagnosed her terminal, they did great things but they diagnosed with a vata disorder which is you know, the worldview that they see through and so one of the things I needed was heavy foods and they gave me as an example chipotles, flat bread with alot of oil. [00:35:30] Well the if the flat bread were made of wheat they would’ve killed me. If i was eating lots of them. But there was no such thing as indians with food intolerance. It was a genetic thing that was outside of their whole worldview. And simultaneously if we start looking at heavy metal exposure or exposure to plastics or pcbs or styrings or salates or pesticides, all the kind of toxic exposure that we have can affect cancer, [00:36:00] neurogenerative endochryneshes. The ancient systems are not gonna know what to to with those cause’ they weren’t part of their environment. So i would say, knowing what a genome is, it’s kind of a big deal having clinical chemistry being able to do imaging. These are really big deals. We don’t die from infectious diseases for the most part, acute infectious disease anymore because just hygiene and antibiotics like that actually serve a role in medicine. [00:36:30] Painkillers,you know, it’s important for people to endure pain and discomfort sometimes to have emotional resillience but painkillers for dentistry are pretty awsome, you know, compared to not. Simultaneously we can say like, following western prices stuff that the indigineous people wouldn’t need as much dentistry before they bought western diet. That’s also true. But, There are heaps of places where we haven’t let’s say take EEG neurofeedback. [00:37:00] There are many buddhist monks who went on work with neurofeedback and found two things. One – they found students could get trained to go into certain states of experience much faster with the neurofeedback than they could with just traditional Buddhist practice. And they even found that some of the very advanced buddhist meditators got insights about their medication that they hadn’t had in decades previously. So, I don’t think almost [00:37:30] any of us would say allright lets trade and go live in an indogenous culture even though there are so many upsides. Cause’ there’s also many upsides to modern technological life but to be able to advance and integrate both is a great thing.

Mike: Along the lines of rites of passage that you brought up earlier I think some of the basic ones like the rites of passage to become an adult you know becoming a teenager are pretty obvious but what would you say that are [00:38:00] in the context of our modern technology and world would be a good idea to create us a new rite of passage? For example like the day you are allowed to use your cellphone being a cultural thing to be using social media in a responsible and effective way that you know you’re not addicted to notifications and that sort of thing.

Daniel: I would say it is a great inquiry for us to think about the rights of passage didn’t have a lot to do with both making someone sure someone was prepared for a certain kind of responsibility [00:38:30] and predisposing them to handle it well and so as we have the technological capacity to be more affected by our tech and to affect more of the world with our tech. We both need to build the tech better itself. Chris, Tom Harris  and others are talking alot of how we’re building techs that are mostly bad for humans. That is optimising [00:39:00] bluescreen, clickbait, dopamine adiction, for people with really shitty attention spans and distraction issues. We actually need to build the tech differently itself because this again, is a gaming mechanics thing like if I’m focused on how do i get the most number of clicks and the most time on site. That’s not gonna make the happiest people, right? And the happiest people are gonna come and do their sh*t and probably leave and do different kinds of beheviour that are not focused on driving, clicking ads [00:39:30] and so if I learned how to hijack their dopamine opioid response – this is a bad thing. So part of it is that we actually just have the technology differently and again that gets back to the theory of incentives so just like the pharmaceuticals if the incentives of the tech developers are not exactly aligned with the wellbeing of the people the tech is being developed for are gonna get a deep missmatch. So anywhere that incentive and wellbeing is missaligned, that externality gap is a problem and [00:40:00] with exponensial tech capacity tha externality gap becomes a catastrophic problem. But i think also, preparing people to handle responsiblity of tech better is a meaningful part of it and I would be very curious to see what the rites of passage in the future might look like.

Mike: This is why blockchain has become such an interesting thing for us because it’s a different way of looking at building these technologies while removing the incentives  to optimise for [00:40:30] a single entity. For example clickbait, time on site, that sort of thing. So I picture using the blockchain to develop an operating system for a phone that would be open source and people could develop something like maybe making adblock in that sort of thing native to the phone and then you know building a whole operating system around this principle of work and make it better for the human and then I also picture having sort of the rites of passage and rituals [00:41:00] built into that operating system too.

Daniel: Right, so now let’s expand this one step  I’ll see the big picture of how I think about neurohacking is everything in your environment is affecting you. This concept of oncological design that we build environments and they intern affect us. That’s a fascinating thing is it. Natural selection is creatures that are being selected for, [00:41:30] based on their adaptiveness to an environmental were the first creature adically changes its environment in one generation to the next but then we’re making it an environment that is in term affecting us back and since we cannot genetically change that fast we are neurostructurally changing, epigenetically changing. So, we think about everything that you think about. The colour and the contrast on your phone, you think about the fact that it’s two-dimensional rather than three-dimensional. You think about just how much time we spend looking in a fixed focal distance [00:42:00] you know, on our laptop or whatever and that’s a big part why we lose our eyesight cause’ our eyes spend too much time looking at a fixed focal distance rather than having a continuously changing focal distance-part of our evolutionary environment. But you move from that to even thinking about “ok, so we’re in a house where the paint is just filled full of volatile organic compounds and the carpet is made out of organic volatile compounds, aldehides and ecc. that are either endocryne destructors or cancerogens or neurotoxins. Our indoor air quality [00:42:30] is worse than freeway air quality. We need to completely change the building materials we use, right. And then you think well, those indiginous people spend very little time indoors. So, one of the effects was they didn’t ceiling above their head most of the time and so they looked up at the sky lot. If you’re in a 8 foot ceiling, you just don’t look up alot. The actual Neurologic effect of your eyes going up and your head [00:43:00] going up stimulates your brain in different ways that are involved in creative process in art ecc..  everything from like the physical structure of buildings to the structure of our digital spaces, to colours, to chemistry of houses, the entire built world. We’re building with a very small number of metrics. How many cubic feet can we enclose, how cheaply ecc. [00:43:30] but we start thinking about that its all affecting the humans inside and we say how would i build a house where my primary metric was optimising the enlightenment and wellbeing that was entied along with the wellbeing of the environment.

Mike: I love this. I wish you could see Euvies face while you’re talking right now, just fireworks.

Daniel: But now ask a question about how to rebuild the entire human built world. [00:44:00] To optimise for the thriving of all life. To optimise for the psychology and phisiology of all the human and the non human life. And have a built world that reflects the design integrity of the natural world. When you look at in nature a hand is optimising for a million functions at a time it’s not optimising for a few. It’s also optimising for it’s own adaptive capacity to do so many things. [00:44:30] If we start to understand what the difference of complex and complicated systems and learn how to actually grow complex systems. How to do complex system design where we’re designing across alot more parameters. I actuall think that’s a fair way to think about what’s humanities task today. To rebuild all of civilisation from scratch. Meaning our monetary inventives, [00:45:00]  our social status incentives, our houses, our digital environments to physical infrastructure – all of it. To rebuild it all from scratch aligned with and thinking about all of its effects, internalising all the externalities. Think about all of its effects and say whats gonna produce the most thriving human and non human life that connects with this system across all metrics of thriving. That’s our task

Euvie: Wow.

Mike: Mind blown. So we might be reaching the end of our time [00:45:30] here but this brings up another really interesting point to focus for maybe a future episode is talking about what you guys were doing with neurohacker collective and through the big picture systems approach you taking.

Euvie: The mothership

Mike: Yeah

Daniel: Well, I think we have flagged a few follow up conversations on just this conversation already so we’ve got the hard problem of consciousness and existentialism maybe some deeper stuff about what is good in indigenous wisdom.  I think iwe talked about briefly [00:46:00] before the show what does transhumanism look like in this framework.  What is a kind of transhumanism is optimising for thriving across all metrics and it understands the complex complicated distinction and maybe hey we’re thinking about all those things that were doing at neurohacker so that sounds like we have some conversation ahead

Mike: Definately.

Euvie: Fantastic.

Mike: Cool, let’s wrap up there then. Daniel it’s really good having you on the show again. Minds blown. I think we’re going to be talking about this [00:46:30] for weeks.

Daniel: And i offer one more thought about what you’re all doing in your show. We have so many more apocalyptic and dystopian visions for the future than we do have possible viable protopic ones. So when you’ve guys are thinking about and sharing in the show about what are positive visions of a future. If we share positive visions of the future that aren’t actually tangible. They aren’t actually anti fragile [00:47:00] in the presence of exponencial tech. Or they presuppose things that involve going backwards in ways so it would never be selected for. Those are useless. But, to have more humans visioning what is a viable thriving civilisation aligned with our evolving capacities? What could it look like? I think that is actually the most critical things that has to be happening more for humanity to make it and for those positive visions to come about. [00:47:30]

Mike: Completely agree. There’s two sort of key tennants that we’ve discussed so much in the past which is behind our thinking about futurethinkers which is you don’t create a better future by visualising the worst case scenario all the time in the thinking of the actual thing that you want .

Daniel: Yes

Mike: And that works across the board with business, with  anything that we’ve had experienced you know creating our lifestyles like you can look at our lifestyles in the fact that we travelled for 5 years and [00:48:00] basically done anything on our whim that we have desired to do because that’s the thing we go after. We visualise what would be great, what would improve our lives and then we go after that thing. And then the second thing is not being uncomfortable with discomfort and in negative possibilities of the future aswell then actually spending the time to incorporate and keep agility like you said and recover from negative situations into your plan for the future.  [00:48:30]So I think that that is you made that point earlier in the show and I think that is absolutely huge and we keep harping on this lately that you have to in order to be resilient you have to actually be comfortable with being uncomfortable

Daniel: Yes, definatelly. Well I’m delighted to see the direction of the show keeps taking and delighted to be on. I look forward to the next time too.

Mike: Cool.

Euvie: Thanks

Mike: Thanks for joining us again. This is allways fun.

Daniel: Thank you

Daniel Schmachtenberger

This is the second half to our interview with Daniel Schmachtenberger, the Co-Founder of Neurohacker Collective. If you haven’t already, listen to the first half, in which Daniel defines neurohacking and explains the first steps. Listen to all the other episodes with Daniel here

What is Neurogenesis?

Neurogenesis is the natural process of the formation of new neurons, which can be induced through various technologies and techniques to treat disease or increase brain function in health individuals. This process results in an increase of gray matter density and processing capacity of the brain, and it slows down the brain’s aging process. Neurogenesis is very useful for treating disease like Alzheimer’s, and for people who suffered brain injury or psychological trauma. It is also useful for healthy people who want to increase their brain’s capacity.

One of the most effective known technique of kickstarting the process of Neurogenesis is learning new sets of motor skills, but it can also be done through supplements, meditation, or other methods.

Psychedelics Assisted Psychotherapy

Continuing into other areas of neurohacking, we get into the discussion of the therapeutic uses of psychedelics. Different psychedelics produce different effects. That makes some better used for treating addiction and others for trauma, but in general, they all increase neuroplasticity. The increased neuroplasticity of the brain on psychedelics along with the proper guidance allow us to recontextualize past experiences and reframe our outlook on life.
When people are overwhelmed, the result of unprocessed stuff is anxiety, confusion and depression. Click To Tweet

Neurohacking: Ancient Wisdom and Modern Technology

We discuss what parts of ancient neurohacking techniques could be useful to adopt in the modern world. Daniel mentions rites of passage ceremonies, which can be helpful for making sense of major life transitions.

To wrap things up, Daniel emphasizes studying the human brain as a complex system. He zooms out to the importance of understanding and remodeling our socio-economical structure with that in mind. He explains that the current economic incentives that our societies are built or are misaligned with human and environmental well-being.

Daniel’s project Neurohacker Collective has developed Qualia, a smart drug stack designed to upgrade human capacity by increasing overall mental performance, mood, and general wellbeing.

After trying Qualia ourselves, we decided to arrange a special deal for our listeners who also wanted to give it a try. When you get an ongoing subscription to Qualia at Neurohacker.com, just use the code FUTURE to get 10% off.

Happiness requires beings that are resilient to discomfort. Click To Tweet

In This Episode of Future Thinkers Podcast:

  • What is neurogenesis
  • Kick-starting neurogenesis by developing new motor skills
  • Psychedelic assisted psychotherapy
  • Synaptogenesis
  • Integrating ancient wisdom
  • The distinction between comfort and happiness
  • Buddhist Monks and neural feedback
  • The Big Picture of neurohacking
  • How do we rebuild our environments for well-being?


“To have more humans visioning what is a viable thriving civilization aligned with our evolving capacities is one of the most critical things that has to be happening more, for humanity to make it”  – Daniel Schmachtenberger of Neurohacker

“How do I build a house where my primary metric is optimizing the enlightenment and well-being of the human that lives inside, along with the well-being of the environment?” – Daniel Schmachtenberger of Neurohacker

“As people learn that their inner state doesn’t have to be affected by the environment as much, that leads to more resilient, happy people.” – Daniel Schmachtenberger of Neurohacker

Mentions and Resources:

Recommended Books:

More From Future Thinkers:


1 Comment

Comments are closed.

  1. James W. Jesso 7 years ago

    Thanks for linking to my microdosing and psychedelics essay!


Say Hi!

Our mission is to help people wake up, evolve, and adapt to the changing world.

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?