How to Control Your Sense of Pain & Pleasure

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In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses our sense of pain and pleasure: where and how they each arise in our mind and body and various ways to control their intensity. He discusses the science of behavioral tools like acupuncture and hypnosis and directed pressure, including the neural circuits they each activate to modulate our experience of pain or pleasure. Dr. Huberman also discusses whole body pain, pain “syndromes” and novel pain relief compounds such as Acetyl-L-Carnitine, SAMe and Agmatine. He discusses neuroplasticity of the pain system and the key role that visual perception plays in pain modulation. Finally, I address the link between dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin with arousal, pleasure and pain. As always, both basic science and various protocols are described.

Note: The description of the dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) was intentionally simplified and does not include mention of dorsal horn spinal relay neurons, etc. For an excellent full-text review of this anatomy and circuits for touch sensing, please read this article.

Resources

Timestamps

  • 00:00:00 Skin, Pain, Pleasure
  • 00:01:50 Protocol 1: Maximizing Motivation (with Dopamine & Pleasure)
  • 00:07:12 Sponsors: InsideTracker, Helix Sleep, Athletic Greens
  • 00:12:04 Pleasure & Pain, & Skin Sensors
  • 00:18:13 Sensing Touch with Your Brain: Magnification of Feet, Hands, Lips, Face, Genitals
  • 00:22:16 Two-Point Discrimination, Dermatomes
  • 00:28:11 Thoughts & Genes That Make Physical Pain Worse
  • 00:33:45 Expectations, Anxiety, & Pain Threshold
  • 00:40:27 Protocol 2: Cold Sensing Is Relative; Getting Into Cold Water
  • 00:45:22 Protocol 3: Heat Is Absolute
  • 00:48:10 Injury & Pain
  • 00:52:04 Protocol 4: Plasticity of Pain: Key Role of Vision
  • 00:58:08 Sensing Disparate Body Parts As Merged
  • 01:01:00 Pain “Syndromes”, Psychogenic Fever, “Psychosomatics”
  • 01:04:40 Fibromyalgia, Naltrexone, Protocol 5: Acetyl-L-Carnitine
  • 01:12:24 Protocol 6: Agmatine, S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate*
  • 01:17:27 Acupuncture: Mechanism, Non-Responders, Itch & Inflammation
  • 01:28:20 Laser Photobiomodulation, Protocol 7: Hypnosis (reveri.com)
  • 01:30:00 Protocol 8: Pressure-Based Pain Relief, “Gate Theory of Pain (Relief)”
  • 01:37:53 Redheads & Pain Thresholds, Endogenous Opioids
  • 01:44:02 Protocol 8: Love & Pain, Dopamine
  • 01:49:23 Pleasure & Reproduction, Dopamine & Serotonin, Oxytocin
  • 01:51:40 Protocol 9: PEA, L-Phenylalanine (Precursor to Tyrosine)
  • 01:55:40 Contextual Control of Pleasure by Autonomic Arousal, Dopamine Baselines
  • 01:59:40 Pleasure-Pain Balance
  • 02:01:24 Protocol 10: Controlling Pleasure, Dopamine & Motivation Over Time
  • 02:06:40 Protocol 11: Immediate, Non-Goal-Directed Pleasure, PAG
  • 02:08:40 Direction of Touch: Pleasure Versus Pain, Arousal & Touch “Sensitivity”
  • 02:13:00 Synthesis & How to Conceptualize Pain and Pleasure, Support