Dr. Adam Gazzaley, UCSF — Brain Optimization and the Future of Psychedelic Medicine (#507)

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“I wanted to do research that then leapt off the page and became tools that would enter people’s lives and make a meaningful difference to them.”

— Dr. Adam Gazzaley

Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD (@adamgazz), is the David Dolby Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Physiology, and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and the founder and executive director of Neuroscape, a translational neuroscience center engaged in technology development and scientific research of novel brain assessments and optimization tools. Adam is co-founder and chief science advisor of Akili Interactive, Sensync, and JAZZ Venture Partners. He has been a scientific adviser for more than a dozen technology companies, including Apple, GE, Nielsen, and Deloitte.

Adam has filed multiple patents—notably his invention of the first video game cleared by the FDA—authored more than 150 scientific articles, and delivered over 675 invited presentations around the world. He wrote and hosted the nationally televised PBS special The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley and co-authored The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, winner of the 2017 PROSE Award. Adam has received many awards and honors, including the 2015 Society for Neuroscience Science Educator Award and the 2020 Global Gaming Citizen honor.

Visit this page to learn more about the Neuroscape Psychedelic Division, which is dedicated to advancing the field of psychedelic science and medicine through multi-level research covering basic to translational to clinical science.

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The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#507: Dr. Adam Gazzaley, UCSF — Brain Optimization and The Future of Psychedelic Medicine
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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Want to time travel with me back to my first episode with Dr. Adam Gazzaley? Give your ears a listen to my conversation with the Maverick of Brain Optimization himself in which we discussed theories of cognition, common misconceptions about the brain and cognitive function, morning rituals, the crossroads of hallucinogens and neuroscience, the neurological impacts of modafinil, and much more.


SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Adam Gazzaley:

Website | Neuroscape | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

SHOW NOTES

  • How NeuroRacer, the game Adam helped develop, helps older adults regain the cognitive function they had in their 20s, and why its featured spot as the cover story of Nature made Adam feel like he’d won a Grammy. [06:46]
  • What has motivated Adam to pursue groundbreaking scientific discoveries and developments? [14:50]
  • Improving upon the work that went into NeuroRacer and building the first video game therapeutic to be approved by the FDA: EndeavorRX. [18:13]
  • Why does the mechanism behind this game prove effective in improving attention abilities in children with a wide variety of conditions including autism, depression, ADHD, and multiple sclerosis? [25:38]
  • How does UCSF compare to its peers in the ecosystem of research within the United States? What is its focus? [29:22]
  • Is risk-taking a critical ingredient for the enthusiasm required for scientific breakthroughs? How has Adam’s work evolved through these breakthroughs over the past decade we’ve known each other? [32:41]
  • An important announcement about Neuroscape’s brand new division and its incoming, world-class director, and how and why it all came about so quickly — especially during a year of global pandemic. [39:08]
  • How will Adam and Robin’s work fill in a gap that’s been thus far lacking in this type of research, and what is Adam most looking forward to exploring in this field with Neuroscape’s sophisticated resources of experience and technology at their disposal? How will their approach differ from methods that have been used in this area since the ’60s? [50:58]
  • Just as the EndeavorRx game adapts to specific users for effectively treating a variety of conditions, does Adam foresee a way for psychedelic therapies to be customized for their patients to address seemingly disparate conditions? [1:07:02]
  • How do we reduce the chances of a patient who is undergoing psychedelic therapy enduring a destabilizing amount of stress that causes more harm than it cures? Here’s where shamans and Adam’s closed-loop systems might mutually benefit from a knowledge exchange. [1:17:54]
  • There’s not really one psychedelic community, but a number of tribal factions at odds with one another along the spectrum between science and superstition. In such a friction-heavy environment, why does Adam think his work has been viewed in such a positive light? [1:22:34]
  • A request for the audience from Adam, information about how interested listeners might get involved with or support his research, and parting thoughts. [1:27:30]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

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12 Replies to “Dr. Adam Gazzaley, UCSF — Brain Optimization and the Future of Psychedelic Medicine (#507)”

  1. Dear Tim,
    I loved this episode of your show and wondered what was your most favorite episode so far?
    Kindly,
    Günther

  2. so can we play Neuro Racer? I can’t find it anywhere. There is a Neuro-Racer on Apple’s app store but it looks different

  3. So many stimulating shows recently! Just a quick note for a new podcast idea. I’d love to listen to a show that chronicles the lives of soldiers with PTSD as they receive psychedelic Therapy. It would be great to have real-world personal insights about this work, witness growth and recovery, and help this important therapy reach a wider audience.

  4. Hi Tim, I am a 4th-year medical student at UCSF. Glad to see you invited one of my professors. I was born and grew up in China, immigrated to the US by myself for college and stayed since then. Because of my cultural background and the journey in the US, I was deeply troubled by loneliness, depression (even if not clinically diagnosed because I was afraid to seek help), and insecurity. Because of you, I gathered my courage to trust psychedelic medicine. It is not a solution for all but definitely opened a new world for me. I just want to thank you for sharing your stories with me. Now, I have listed advocation for psychedelic medicine as one of my major research projects during residency. Really inspired by your honesty and courage!

  5. So much food for thought in this podcast. Certainly, it makes intuitive sense to think that an experiential intervention will have greater impact than pharmaceuticals or therapy alone. Anecdotally we can all recall trips we have had – experiences – that were with friends or other people that was in a different environment than our normal one. We can recall these experiences so much more easily than other memories, and often they are also a catalyst for change. This is such an exciting area of research. Can’t wait to see the innovations that come out of this.