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    Science of Social Bonding in Family, Friendship & Romantic Love

    enDecember 20, 2021

    Podcast Summary

    • The Neural Circuits for Social Bonding: From Infancy to AdulthoodOur nervous system is wired for social bonding, and understanding how our brains form and change these bonds can improve our relationships and overall quality of life. With plasticity within the system, we can rewire our neural circuits in response to experience and navigate different types of social bonds.

      Social bonding, from infancy to death, significantly affects the quality of life. Our nervous system is wired for bonding, with particular wiring diagrams oriented towards the specific bonds that occur between infant and mother, as well as infant and father. Specific brain circuits are activated during social bonding, including friendship and romantic relationships. Breakups with romantic partners, friends, or coworkers are painful, but our neural circuits for social bonding are repurposed and generic for all types of social bonds. There is plasticity within the system, and we can rewire the neural circuits for social bonding in response to experience. Understanding the neural circuits for bonding can help us navigate different types of social bonds, such as introversion, extroversion, trauma bonds, and healthy bonds.

    • The Importance of Social Bonding for Human BeingsSocial bonding is necessary for humans' well-being as it helps maintain social homeostasis, and lack of it can lead to stress, aggressive behavior, and difficulty in forming connections. Seeking social contact is as crucial as basic needs such as hunger, thirst, and temperature regulation.

      Social bonding is crucial for human beings as they have a unique chemical signature for bonding. Lack of social bonding leads to social isolation which elevates stress hormone levels and triggers aggressive and irritable behavior towards others. Chronic social isolation changes the nature of the brain and body, making social connections more challenging. Healthy craving for social contact has a specific brain circuit and neurochemical signature. Social bonding is critical for maintaining social homeostasis, much like hunger, thirst, and temperature regulation. Seeking social contact is crucial for human beings' well-being, and they put in significant efforts to form social bonds that help them regulate and function optimally.

    • The neural circuit behind social bonding.The social homeostasis circuit involves a detector, control center, effector, and prefrontal cortex, working together to maintain and adjust social bonds through behavioral responses and hormonal influence.

      The social homeostasis circuit consists of a detector, control center, effector, and prefrontal cortex, which work together to regulate social bonding. The detector system involves the ACC and the basal lateral amygdala, which help detect healthy and unhealthy social bonds. The control center includes the lateral and peri ventricular hypothalamus, which use hormones like oxytocin to influence social behavior. The effector system drives behavioral responses, such as using social media, texting, or making plans with friends. The prefrontal cortex plays a crucial role in establishing social hierarchies and adjusting them based on subjective understanding. Overall, the neural circuit controlling social homeostasis is highly dynamic and fluid, allowing individuals to maintain and adjust social bonds in different settings with the same people.

    • The Role of Dopamine in Social InteractionDopamine within the dorsal raphe nucleus drives our craving for social interaction, making us seek out social connections. Chronic social isolation can result in negative behavioral changes, highlighting the importance of social interaction for human wellbeing.

      The dorsal raphe nucleus in the brain contains dopamine neurons responsible for mediating social homeostasis, which is the process by which we crave social interaction when we lack it. Dopamine causes us to seek out social interactions of particular kinds, and chronic social isolation can lead to becoming introverted or even antisocial. This is similar to the hormonal mechanisms that make us hungry when we eat regularly and predict food is coming in. However, just as sudden food deprivation would cause us to seek out food through other routes, sudden social deprivation leads us to crave replacement social interaction.

    • Understanding the Social Homeostasis Circuit and Dopamine in Introversion and ExtroversionPersonal response to social interaction and dopamine levels determine introversion or extroversion. Instead of being chatty or quiet, it is important to consider social needs for balance. The prefrontal cortex offers flexibility in social interaction decisions.

      The social homeostasis circuit and dopamine play a crucial role in introversion and extroversion. Introverts release greater dopamine in response to individual social interactions and do not require much social engagement to feel sated. On the other hand, extroverts release less dopamine in response to individual social interactions and require much more social interaction to feel filled up. Therefore, it is useful to think about people in terms of how much social interaction they need to bring the social homeostasis into balance rather than whether they are chatty or quiet. However, the prefrontal cortex affords flexibility in terms of the types of social interactions that one can engage in and whether to spend time with certain people or not.

    • The Neuroscience of Loneliness and Social BehaviorSocial behavior is motivated by dopamine neurons, introverts require fewer interactions to feel fulfilled, and social interactions are crucial for everyone regardless of their position on the introversion/extroversion spectrum.

      Loneliness is the distress that arises from differences between ideal and perceived social relationships. Social behavior is motivated by dopamine neurons in the dorsal Rapha nucleus, which causes individuals to seek out social interactions. Similarly, social hunger is likened to hunger caused by a lack of food intake. Those who identify as introverts require fewer social interactions to feel fulfilled than extroverts. Social seeking and social isolation are influenced by where a person sees themselves in the social hierarchy. At a neural level, the same neurochemicals underlie all these different drives. Ultimately, social interactions are crucial for everyone, regardless of their position on the introversion-extroversion spectrum.

    • The Biological Circuit of Social Interaction and Food CravingsOur need for social interaction, food, and water are homeostatic drives that work together and are controlled by dopamine. Social isolation can increase our craving for food, while falling in love can reduce the craving for food and positively affect our senses.

      Social interaction and food cravings share a common biological circuit that is driven by dopamine. Social isolation increases our craving for social interactions, and when we can't fulfill that through social interactions, we turn to other dopamine-boosting activities like eating comfort food. Similarly, food fasting increases hunger and increases our appetite for social interactions. The importance of social interaction in maintaining our wellbeing is comparable to that of basic necessities like food and water. All these homeostatic drives work in synergy, and dopamine is the final pathway that drives our behavior. Falling in love activates the same circuit as social interaction, reducing the craving for other activities like food and sleep, and positively affecting our senses and interpretation of stimuli.

    • The power of physiological synchronization in social bonding.Physiological synchronization between individuals strengthens social bonds, and engaging in activities that stimulate synchronized responses can improve relationships, even with challenging family members.

      Physiological synchronization can enhance social bonding, as proven in a study where people listening to the same story at different times had synchronized heart rates. The quality and perceived depth of social bonds correlate strongly with physiological synchronization between individuals. The body and brain are reciprocally connected so that what we think, hear and feel drives our physiology and vice versa, influencing our state of mind. This can be leveraged, for example, during the holidays to improve relations with challenging family members, avoiding direct confrontation. Instead, engaging in activities that stimulate synchronized physiological responses, such as listening to the same story or attending a concert together, can enhance the sense of bonding between individuals.

    • The Power of Shared Experiences in Building Stronger Social BondsShared experiences that synchronize physiological responses create stronger social bonds. Childhood attachment experiences also impact adult attachment. Creating these experiences is powerful for challenging interactions or friction in relationships.

      Shared experiences can synchronize heart rates of different individuals, acting as a bridge to establish social bonds. Focusing on external stimuli, such as common narratives, traditions, events, or music that create a physiological response can bond individuals without necessarily shifting their physiologies. The right and left-brained forms of attachment established during childhood also influence adult forms of attachment, underlining the importance of early bonding experiences. Such experiences create subconscious or autonomic nervous system responses that impact adult bonding. Therefore, focusing on creating shared experiences that synchronize physiological responses can establish stronger social bonds. It is a powerful tool for those experiencing challenging interactions or friction in relationships.

    • The Importance of Autonomic System Synchronization for Healthy Social Bonding in Infants.Physical touch and emotional connection between an infant and their primary caretaker, aided by oxytocin release, is vital to establishing healthy social bonds, which require a synchronization of both the right and left brain systems.

      Healthy social bonding between infants and their caretakers relies on the synchronization of the autonomic functions of the right and left brain circuits. The right brain system involves emotional regulation, while the left brain system is more conscious and focused on predictable narratives that offer rewards. The physical contact between an infant and their primary caretaker, typically the mother, coordinates and synchronizes the autonomic nervous systems of both parties. Oxytocin, a peptide hormone, plays a key role in this synchronization process. The more closely related one is to the particular child, the more oxytocin is released and the stronger the bond becomes. As children get older, both the right and left brain systems continue to be important in establishing bonds.

    • The importance of empathy in establishing healthy social bonds.To establish strong social bonds, it is essential to have both emotional and cognitive empathy and strive for synchronization of bodily and cognitive states. Disagreements are also a part of bonding, and empathy forms the foundation of healthy relationships.

      Establishing healthy social bonds requires both emotional empathy, which is feeling what the other person feels, and cognitive empathy, which is understanding how the other person thinks. Synchronization of bodily and cognitive states are essential for establishing deeper bonds with friends and romantic partners. It is not necessary to agree on everything as disagreements are also a part of bonding. Infants and parents establish healthy bonds using both left and right-brain systems, and as people age, the same circuits established in childhood are repurposed for other forms of attachment. An autonomic bond or synchronization of experience is vital for a complete bond with another individual. Empathy is the ability to sense what others are feeling and thinking, and it forms the foundation of strong social bonds.

    • The Power of Oxytocin in Social Bonding and Biological Processes.Oxytocin plays a crucial role in social bonding, from pair bonding to social recognition. Understanding its regulation through attachment can lead to healthy adult attachment. While neurotransmitters act quickly, hormones like oxytocin have long-lasting effects on behaviors and biological processes.

      Oxytocin, a hormone associated with social bonding, is involved in a range of behaviors such as orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, honesty, and autism. It can be regulated through various pathways, and understanding early forms of attachment can lead to developing healthy adult attachment. Biological processes work on short and long timescales, and while neurotransmitters and neuromodulators are quick, hormones have longer lasting effects. Oxytocin has longstanding effects, such as involving lactation, uterine contraction during childbirth, and sexual response in both males and females. Interactions between individuals that see each other as closely associated release oxytocin at high levels which contributes to social homeostasis.

    • The Science of Bonding: Exploring the Power of Oxytocin and MTMA.Oxytocin plays a vital role in social bonding, intimacy, and trust. The drug, MTMA, being tested in clinical trials, can increase oxytocin levels, further promoting connections between individuals. Variations in oxytocin genes also influence social interactions in the digital sphere.

      Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that promotes bonding and connection between individuals. It can be released through physical contact, as well as just the sight or smell of a loved one, and is associated with feelings of trust and sexual desire. MTMA, a drug being explored in clinical trials, can cause massive increases in the amount of oxytocin released, leading to greater feelings of connection and bonding. Oxytocin receptors and gene polymorphisms can also impact an individual's capacity to feel bonded. Some variations in the oxytocin and oxytocin receptor genes have been linked to increased social media interactions, indicating a potential role in social bonding beyond physical contact.

    • The Role of Oxytocin in Online Social BondingEmotional and cognitive empathy contribute to strong social bonds, introverts and extroverts differ in social interaction needs, and paying attention to external events can deepen social bonds. Understanding oxytocin's role can help establish and reinforce social bonds.

      The oxytocin system plays a crucial role in online social bonding and can actively encourage more social interactions on social media. Emotional empathy and cognitive empathy together make up robust bonds of various kinds. Introverts and extroverts differ not in how much they seek out social interactions per se, but in how much is enough for the given person. It's important to pay attention to external events, such as narrative story, music, or sports, to drive synchrony of autonomic function for establishing and deepening social bonds. By understanding the biological circuitry of social bonding, individuals can identify entry points to establishing and reinforcing social bonds of different kinds.

    • The Science of Social Bonding and the Pain of Breaking UpSocial bonding is complex yet understandable and essential for humans. By recognizing the underlying biology, we can work to strengthen bonds and deal with the social challenges that come with breakups, forming attachments and seeking connections.

      Breakups, whether between friendships or romantic partners, are painful because they involve a breaking of both emotional and cognitive empathy, causing social isolation and devastation to our nervous system. Social bonding is vitally important to us as a species, and there are specific biological, neurochemical and hormonal underpinnings to it. Understanding these can help us strengthen social bonds and establish new ones. It can also provide insight into why we seek out online interactions and help us work with people we feel challenged in forming social bonds with. While social bonding is complex, it is not infinitely so and is tractable. With this knowledge, we can understand the challenges of breaking up, falling in love, forming attachments, and being challenged with attachments.

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    GUEST SERIES | Dr. Matt Walker: The Science of Dreams, Nightmares & Lucid Dreaming
    This is episode 6 of a 6-part special series on sleep with Dr. Matthew Walker, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and a leading public educator on sleep for mental and physical health, learning and human performance. In this episode, we discuss dreaming, including the biological mechanism of dreams, what dreams mean and their role in daytime life.  We explore how dreams can enhance our creativity and emotional well-being and help us resolve various challenges and dilemmas. We discuss how to remember and interpret your dreams and the abstractions/symbols frequently present in dreams. We also discuss nightmares and therapies to treat reoccurring nightmares. We explain what lucid dreaming is and if there are benefits or drawbacks to this type of dreaming. Dr. Walker also answers frequently asked audience questions and discusses snoring, body position, sleep supplements, sleep challenges due to aging, menopause, stopping racing thoughts, and how to fall back asleep if you wake in the middle of the night.  For show notes, including referenced articles and additional resources, please visit hubermanlab.com. Thank you to our sponsors AG1: https://drinkag1.com/huberman BetterHelp: https://betterhelp.com/huberman LMNT: https://drinklmnt.com/huberman Helix Sleep: https://helixsleep.com/huberman WHOOP: https://www.join.whoop.com/huberman Momentous: https://livemomentous.com/huberman Timestamps 00:00:00 Dreaming 00:01:13 Sponsors: BetterHelp, LMNT & Helix Sleep 00:05:06 Dreams & REM Sleep 00:12:20 Evolution of REM Sleep, Humans 00:17:13 REM Sleep & PGO Waves; Dreams & Brain Activity 00:24:26 Dreams, Images & Brain Activity; Sleepwalking & Sleep Talking 00:30:51 Sponsor: AG1 00:32:04 Dream Benefits, Creativity & Emotional Regulation; Challenge Resolution 00:41:27 Daily Experience vs. Dreaming, Emotions 00:45:08 Dream Interpretation & Freud, Dream Relevance 00:52:59 Abstractions, Symbols, Experience & Dreams; “Fuzzy Logic” 01:00:28 Sponsor: Whoop 01:01:36 Nightmares; Recurring Nightmares & Therapy 01:11:08 Targeted Memory Reactivation, Sounds & Nightmares 01:15:38 Odor, Paired Associations, Learning & Sleep 01:18:53 Fear Extinction, Memory & Sleep; Tool: Remembering Dreams 01:25:38 Lucid Dreaming, REM Sleep, Paralysis 01:32:33 Lucid Dreaming: Benefits? Unrestorative Sleep? 01:44:07 Improve Lucid Dreaming 01:49:30 Tool: Negative Rumination & Falling Asleep 01:53:41 Tools: Body Position, Snoring & Sleep Apnea; Mid-Night Waking & Alarm Clock 01:58:43 Sleep Banking?; Tool: Falling Back Asleep, Rest 02:05:53 Tool: Older Adults & Early Waking; Sleep Medications 02:11:25 Tool: Menopause & Sleep Disruption, Hot Flashes 02:15:06 Remembering Dreams & Impacts Sleep Quality? 02:18:32 Tool: Sleep Supplements 02:26:48 Tool: Most Important Tip for Sleep 02:30:56 Zero-Cost Support, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, YouTube Feedback, Momentous, Social Media, Neural Network Newsletter Disclaimer

    Dr. Casey Means: Transform Your Health by Improving Metabolism, Hormone & Blood Sugar Regulation

    Dr. Casey Means: Transform Your Health by Improving Metabolism, Hormone & Blood Sugar Regulation
    In this episode, my guest is Dr. Casey Means, M.D., a physician trained at Stanford University School of Medicine, an expert on metabolic health and the author of the book, "Good Energy." We discuss how to leverage nutrition, exercise and environmental factors to enhance your metabolic health by improving mitochondrial function, hormone and blood sugar regulation.  We also explore how fasting, deliberate cold exposure and spending time in nature can impact metabolic health, how to control food cravings and how to assess your metabolic health using blood testing, continuous glucose monitors and other tools.  Metabolic dysfunction is a leading cause of chronic disease, obesity and reduced lifespan around the world. Conversely, improving your mitochondrial and metabolic health can positively affect your health span and longevity. Listeners of this episode will learn low- and zero-cost tools to improve their metabolic health, physical and mental well-being, body composition and target the root cause of various common diseases. For show notes, including referenced articles and additional resources, please visit hubermanlab.com. Thank you to our sponsors AG1: https://drinkag1.com/huberman Maui Nui Venison: https://mauinuivenison.com/huberman  Eight Sleep: https://eightsleep.com/huberman  AeroPress: https://aeropress.com/huberman  InsideTracker: https://insidetracker.com/huberman  Momentous: https://livemomentous.com/huberman Timestamps 00:00:00 Dr. Casey Means 00:02:18 Sponsors: Maui Nui, Eight Sleep & AeroPress 00:06:32 Metabolism, Metabolic Dysfunction, Medicinal Blindspot 00:14:17 Trifecta of Bad Energy 00:24:02 Western Living, United States, Specialization & Medicine 00:27:57 Insulin Resistance, Tool: Mitochondrial Capacity & Exercise 00:33:33 Sponsor: AG1 00:35:03 Tools: Walking & Glucose; Frequent Movement 00:44:25 Tools: Exercises to Improve Mitochondrial Capacity; Desk Treadmill 00:51:18 Soleus Push-Ups & Fidgeting, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) 00:57:14 Sponsor: InsideTracker 00:58:21 Tool: Blood Test Biomarkers, Vital Signs & Mitochondrial Function 01:11:16 Navigate Medical System & Blood Tests, Consumer Lab Testing 01:16:46 Tool: Environmental Factors; Food, Life as a Process 01:21:58 Tool: Ultra-Processed vs. Real Food, Obesity, Soil & Micronutrients 01:32:03 Ultra-Processed Foods: Brain & Cellular Confusion 01:39:10 Tools: Control Cravings, GLP-1 Production, Microbiome Support 01:51:42 Ozempic, GLP-1 Analogs; Root Cause & Medicine 02:00:54 Tool: Deliberate Cold & Heat Exposure, Brown Fat 02:07:27 Tool: Intermittent Fasting & Metabolic Flexibility; Insulin Sensitivity 02:17:03 Tool: Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) & Awareness, Glucose Spikes 02:24:34 Tool: CGMs, Glycemic Variability, Dawn Effect, Individuality 02:33:10 Sleep; Continuous Monitoring & Biomarkers 02:37:39 Mindset & Safety, Stress & Cell Danger Response 02:44:04 Tool: Being in Nature, Sunlight, Fear 02:54:44 Zero-Cost Support, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, YouTube Feedback, Social Media, Neural Network Newsletter Disclaimer

    GUEST SERIES | Dr. Matt Walker: Improve Sleep to Boost Mood & Emotional Regulation

    GUEST SERIES | Dr. Matt Walker: Improve Sleep to Boost Mood & Emotional Regulation
    This is episode 5 of our 6-part special series on sleep with Dr. Matthew Walker, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and the host of The Matt Walker Podcast. In this episode, we explain the connection between sleep and mood, emotional regulation and mental well-being.  We explain the role of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in processing emotions and emotional memories and why sleep deprivation causes agitation, impulsivity and emotional reactivity.  We also discuss why sleep disruption is a hallmark feature of PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicidality, and other psychiatric conditions.  We explain protocols for improving REM sleep and other sleep phases in order to harness the therapeutic power of quality sleep to feel calmer and emotionally restored. This episode describes various actionable tools to improve sleep for those struggling with mental health or mood and those wanting to bolster their overall state and well-being.  The next episode in this special series explores dreams, including lucid dreaming, nightmares and dream interpretation. For show notes, including referenced articles and additional resources, please visit hubermanlab.com. Thank you to our sponsors AG1: https://drinkag1.com/huberman Eight Sleep: https://eightsleep.com/huberman LMNT: https://drinklmnt.com/huberman BetterHelp: https://betterhelp.com/huberman InsideTracker: https://insidetracker.com/huberman  Momentous: https://livemomentous.com/huberman Timestamps (00:00:00) Sleep & Mental Health (00:01:09) Sponsors: Eight Sleep, LMNT & BetterHelp (00:05:14) Emotions & Sleep, Amygdala (00:17:27) Emotional Memory & Sleep (00:25:48) “Overnight Therapy” & REM Sleep, Noradrenaline (00:29:13) Sponsor: AG1 (00:30:27) Sleep to “Remember & Forget”, Trauma; REM Sleep (00:38:27) Hinge Analogy; Motivation, Impulsivity & Addiction (00:47:08) Tool: Improve REM Sleep, Social Jet Lag, Alcohol & THC, Addiction (00:56:18) Sponsor: InsideTracker (00:57:23) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & REM Sleep (01:06:53) Noradrenaline & REM Sleep, PTSD & Prazosin (01:09:40) Addiction, Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR); Liminal States (01:16:46) Anxiety & Sleep, Mood vs. Emotions (01:23:50) Deep Non-REM Sleep & Anxiety, Sleep Quality (01:28:51) Tool: Improve Deep Non-REM Sleep, Temperature; Alcohol (01:34:56) Suicidality & Sleep, Pattern Recognition; Nightmares (01:46:21) Depression, Anxiety & Time Context (01:51:24) Depression, Too Much Sleep?; REM Changes & Antidepressants (01:57:37) Sleep Deprivation & Depression (02:01:34) Tool: Circadian Misalignment & Mental Health, Chronotype (02:04:05) Tools: Daytime Light & Nighttime Darkness; “Junk Light” (02:13:04) Zero-Cost Support, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, YouTube Feedback, Momentous, Social Media, Neural Network Newsletter Disclaimer

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