Guest Episode
July 10, 2023

Dr. Robert Malenka: How Your Brain's Reward Circuits Drive Your Choices

Listen or watch on your favorite platforms

In this episode, my guest is Robert Malenka, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford School of Medicine who has made numerous seminal discoveries of how the brain changes (neuroplasticity) in response to learning and in response to rewarding and reinforcing experiences. We discuss the brain’s several reward systems involving dopamine and serotonin and how these motivate us to seek out specific behaviors and substances. We discuss how these reward systems are modified based on context and our memories, and how they can be hijacked toward maladaptive drug seeking in addiction. We also explore how reward systems influence social connections, oxytocin and empathy and how that applies to our understanding of autism spectrum disorders. This episode should be of interest to those interested in neuroplasticity, social bonding, addiction, autism, learning and motivation.


Other Resources

  • 00:00:00 Dr. Robert Malenka
  • 00:02:37 Sponsors: ROKA & Levels
  • 00:05:21 Dopamine & Reward Circuitry
  • 00:11:31 Reward, Arousal, Memory & Dopamine
  • 00:17:34 Context, Cues & Dopamine Modification
  • 00:25:38 Memory & Reward Scaling
  • 00:30:50 Dopamine, “Addictive Liability” & Route of Administration 00:39:07 Sponsor: AG1
  • 00:40:04 Drugs of Abuse & Brain Changes; Addiction & Individual Variability
  • 00:50:51 Reinforcement vs. Reward, Wanting vs. Liking
  • 00:57:50 Opioids, Psychostimulants & Dopamine
  • 01:03:38 Sponsor: LMNT
  • 01:04:51 Self-Doubt, Confidence & Career
  • 01:12:40 Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • 01:19:29 Pro-Social Interaction & Reward; Oxytocin, Serotonin & Dopamine
  • 01:30:30 Nucleus Accumbens & Behavior Probability
  • 01:38:28 Reward for Pro-Social Behavior
  • 01:43:13 Social Media & “Addictive Liability”; Gambling
  • 01:52:17 Pain, Social Behavior & Empathy
  • 02:02:19 Empathy Circuitry, Dopamine & Serotonin
  • 02:10:07 Autism Spectrum Disorder & Social Interactions, Empathy
  • 02:17:23 MDMA, Serotonin & Dopamine; Addiction & Pro-Social Effects
  • 02:28:13 Autism Spectrum Disorder, Social Behavior, MDMA & Pharmacology
  • 02:37:18 Serotonin, MDMA & Psychedelics
  • 02:40:16 Psychedelics: Research & Therapeutic Potential
  • 02:47:57 Zero-Cost Support, YouTube Feedback, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, Momentous, Social Media, Neural Network Newsletter

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