“My lab is interested in pursuing how we can enhance cognition to improve quality of life.”
– Adam Gazzaley
Dr. Adam Gazzaley (@adamgazz) obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, then postdoctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at UC Berkeley. He is now the director of the Gazzaley Lab at UC San Francisco, a cognitive neuroscience laboratory.
His recent studies go far beyond mere description — he and his lab are exploring neuroplasticity and how we can optimize cognitive abilities, even in healthy adults. So, what happens when you combine cognitive-focused video games with neurofeedback, magnetic and electrical stimulation, and even performance-enhancing drugs? Well, that’s just one of many things we cover in this conversation.
As someone with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease on both sides of my family, I find Adam’s work to be of incredible importance and promise. I hope this discussion blows your mind, in the best way possible.
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Want to hear more from world-class scientists?
Check out my conversations with Dr. Peter Attia. In the below episode, we discuss life-extension, drinking jet fuel, ultra-endurance, human foie gras, and more (stream below or right-click here to download):
Want even more from unorthodox scientists?
Listen to my conversation with Dr. Rhonda Patrick. In this episode, we discuss life extension, optimal performance, and much more (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Are you afraid of losing cognitive function with age? If so, WHAT are you doing to prevent it? If nothing, why? Please share in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Learn more about Neuroracer, the game that enhances cognition for older adults
- Learn more about Nature, the international journal of science
- The Cosmos Series by Carl Sagan
- Foundation by Isaac Asimov
- The Reality Dysfunction (The Night’s Dawn Trilogy) by Peter Hamilton
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
- Check out Body Brain Trainer, a game from Gazzaley Labs
- Watch The Lady in Number Six, a story about a 109-year-old pianist and Holocaust survivor
- Watch the transformative effect of music on this man with Alzheimer’s disease
- Check out the book that inspired Adam Gazzaley’s photography Mountain Light by Galen Rowell
- Explore the photography of Adam Gazzaley at ComeWander.com
- Read Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman and watch The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
- Try some WhistlePig Rye
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- Tuxedo Park by Jennet Conant
- Learn more about Omni, a tool to walk in virtual reality
- Check out the Glass Brain Flythrough, a video of flying through an active brain
- Connect with Adam Gazzaley
- Why Neuroracer was considered a ‘game changer’ [7:40]
- Theories of cognition [13:50]
- On making the cover of Nature magazine [17:35]
- The self-talk behind Adam’s crazy idea to build a video game to rewire the brain [19:20]
- What inspired Adam to become a scientist [21:40]
- Why Gazzaley Lab is unique/unusual and concepts that have jumped into the private sector [25:35]
- Why Gazzaley decided to focus on improving cognition [34:40]
- How Adam Gazzaley thinks about “success” [39:40]
- Vetting people who want to be a part of Gazzaley Lab [34:05]
- Common misconceptions about the brain and cognitive function [36:15]
- On the likelihood that pre-existing video games have similar cognitive effects to cognition as as described in Gazzaley Lab’s video game research [43:20]
- Most gifted books [47:10]
- About the ‘Neuroman’ project [50:50]
- Learn more about the games Gazzaley Labs has created to improve cognition: MetaTrain, Body Brain Trainer (BBT) and Rhythmicity [56:50]
- How inspiration for Rhythmicity came from New Orleans, The Grateful Dead, and the AARP [1:05:30]
- The origin of Adam Gazzaley’s interest in photography [1:10:20]
- Morning rituals for Adam Gazzaley [1:16:20]
- Rapid Fire Questions: Inspiration for downtimes, most listened to music, favorite cocktails, losing an eye, and plans for virtual reality [1:25:00]
- Exploring the crossroads of hallucinogens and neuroscience [1:40:50]
- Shortlisted compounds for pairing pharmaceuticals and video games to improve cognition [1:43:20]
- On the neurological impacts of modafinil [1:46:05]
- The most exciting studies related to Transcranial Electrical Stimulation (TDCS) [1:47:20]
- Advice to Adam Gazzaley’s thirty-year-old self [1:51:20]
- What Adam Gazzaley would do with an additional 100 million dollars [1:52:50]
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