"Welcome to this week's episode of the Psych Central Podcast call into the show. Today we have Dr John Grow Hall. Who is the founder and the editor in chief of Psych Central John? Welcome to the show. Great to be here with Gabe. I'm glad to have you today. We're going to be discussing. A twitter trend called dopamine fasting. Can you explain what that is. Good old dopamine fasting. Yeah that sounds sounds like a fun thing right so dopamine fasten your. It's this idea that by restricting your pleasurable daily activities things that you normally normally enjoy doing on a daily or weekly basis such as drinking alcohol sex drugs gaming even talking to others checking your career. FACEBOOK feed your social media feeds and in some extremes even pleasurable eating that if you cut all that out for twenty four hours for forty the eight hours you are somehow magically going to reset your neuro chemical makeup in your brain. I have a million questions about this is but let's start at the very very beginning. What is dopamine? Dopamine is a neurotransmitter chemical in your brain very very important for how your brain functions it is something that we call as a part of the dopamine motive system system because the dopamine system in the brain functions on both motivation and reinforcement. It's not just a reward system as many people believe. I believe that We most often hear dopamine attached to things talking about drug addiction that when people get addicted to cocaine or some. The mother drug that the screws up their dopamine receptors in their brains and that is very true but more generally dopamine is involved an daily activities in everybody's brain and it is involved in all the activities and behaviors that are around motivation in reinforcement in our lives so when we eat something like a big piece of chocolate cake our brain is flooded with dopamine. And we feel feel-good Dr Grow Hall. I'm I'm not a psychologist. I'm not a therapist. I'm not a researcher and I'm certainly not a neurologist but this just sounds ridiculous to me as just just a regular person the idea that if you don't use part of your brain it just magically become something different. Yeah that's true I. It's not something that's likely to happen because it doesn't speak to. How dopamine actually works in our brain and since? I'm not an expert in dopamine either I had to speak speak to some experts. One of whom was Professor Kim Helman's neuroscience researcher at Carleton University in Canada and we had a long conversation station about dopamine. And how it works in the brain and one of the things that she reminded me. was that in our brains that dopamine is a part of a very dynamic system and what that means is that it is always it doesn't exist in sort of a static state. It responds spawned two levels of stimulation that an individual is exposed to so neural. Transmitters are synthesized on demand as needed did and then they're stored in these little packages in the brain inside the cell ready for release. And if you don't use them they remained stored if you do use them they get used up in your brain and then your brain creates more dopamine. So if you think you're going on a fast for twenty four or forty eight hours of Komo dopamine. You're actually not because your brain is storing up the dopamine anyway for future use. It has absolutely nothing to do with fasting dopamine in the brain. I'm sort of a little confused about this idea of dopamine fasting because you can get pleasure from a lot of different things some of the examples that you gave her obvious things that you give pleasure. You know pleasurable eating sex. We understand those even even a technology fast okay. Technology makes Gabe very very very happy. But you know beating my. GPS makes me happy petting. My dog makes aches me. Happy the workday ending and me walking in the front door knowing that the next several hours our mind to do with as I please those things make me a happy so even if dopamine fasting worked. I'm not quite sure what that would look like. Because don't we get joy from just many different places. Yeah and it speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding of what dopamine is that it's involved in so much more than pleasure. It's involved in both things things surrounding our appetite and eating behaviors as well as stress responses. So it seems to be a signal that's released whenever the an organism needs needs to pay attention and learn about stimuli or signals or other things happening in the environment around them in that way. Dopey looney is far more complex than most people understand it to be and so it's not just about. Oh here's a hamburger. So next time I hey I need to remember. It's sight and smell and taste so next time I I'm hungry I can remember like hey I can hamburger and that will satisfy my need it for to satisfy my appetite but another example is here's a bear so I must remember where I saw this bear so I don't go into the bears territory again the future so I can avoid it and not getting by a bear. I like all examples that have to do with not being eaten by a a bear. I just feel the need to say that Dr Grow Hall. We take it for granted that we live in this civilized world where we drive around and automobiles us and we eat a pre prepared food items from McDonalds Burger King or whatnot and we forget that our bodies and our brains things were developed and spent most of the time being raised in a very very different environment environment where it was fight or flight where you need to worry about where your next meal is coming from. And you need to worry about whether you're going to eat or be eaten. It's only in the past hundred hundred or two hundred years or so where you can say. Oh humans have had a whole heck of a lot more free time to worry about things other than where their the next meal is coming from. What's interesting to me? Is that people believe this because the brain is very very advanced and it's so advanced that you Dr Grow Hall who have an advanced Vance degree in psychology had to find somebody who had you know a more advanced degree in the brain to understand this but the core of this for people to believe this is true. They have to believe that the brain is exceptionally simple and most people don't believe that the brain is exceptionally simple. Why do so you think that people believe that this works? What are they hoping to get out of it? I think there's desire and many people to find something to try. I something that they haven't tried before. That will help fix a lot of the issues that are most important to them on a day to a day basis and today the issue that arises in many people's life is a feeling of being overwhelmed a feeling of being stressed out out and having to reply to all these alerts and notifications that are always bombarding us in our free time or downtime our our time away from work and so this idea that Oh i could just take a break a dopamine fast for twenty four hours Al Comeback and I'll be all refreshed Rushton renewed and my brain will have reset. Its neurotransmitters is very appealing. Because it says hey you need to make a twenty four hour commitment in everything is going to go back to the way. It was five years ago so for people who enjoy thinking that there are quick fixes to long standing difficult difficult issues in a person's life this is very attractive."