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Dr. Jack Feldman: Breathing for Mental & Physical Health & Performance | Episode 54

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2h 24min
131.7 MB

Huberman Lab

Podcast Notes

  • The brain utilizes about 20% of all the oxygen we take in and needs it continuously
  • There’s bidirectionality to breathing and state: emotional state influence breathing and breathing influences emotional state
  • The most unique thing about breathing is that you can consciously change your breathing and change your signal and internal state
  • To increase heart rate, inhale longer than exhale; to slow heart rate, exhale longer than inhale
  • Fastest method to calm down in real time, try the physiological sigh: two inhales through the nose followed by an extended exhale through the mouth, repeat 5 minutes
  • Performance after lunch tends to fall off – try box before starting work again: 5 second inhale, 5 second hold, 5 second exhale, 5 second hold x 5-10 minutes
  • It might be that the specific pattern of breathwork one does is not as important as the transition between states of deliberate breathwork

Read the full notes @

This episode my guest is Dr. Jack Feldman, Distinguished Professor of Neurobiology at University of California, Los Angeles and a pioneering world expert in the science of respiration (breathing). We discuss how and why humans breathe the way we do, the function of the diaphragm and how it serves to increase oxygenation of the brain and body. We discuss how breathing influences mental state, fear, memory, reaction time, and more. And we discuss specific breathing protocols such as box-breathing, cyclic hyperventilation (similar to Wim Hof breathing), nasal versus mouth breathing, unilateral breathing, and how these each effect the brain and body. We discuss physiological sighs, peptides expressed by specific neurons controlling breathing, and magnesium compounds that can improve cognitive ability and how they work. This conversation serves as a sort of "Master Class" on the science of breathing and breathing related tools for health and performance.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Our Breath Collective:

Dr. Jack Feldman Links:

Our Patreon page:

Supplements from Thorne:



  • 00:00:00 Introducing Dr. Jack Feldman
  • 00:03:05 Sponsors: Thesis, Athletic Greens, Headspace, Our Breath Collective
  • 00:10:35 Why We Breathe 
  • 00:14:35 Neural Control of Breathing: “Pre-Botzinger Complex”
  • 00:16:20 Nose vs Mouth Breathing
  • 00:18:18 Skeletal vs. Smooth Muscles: Diaphragm, Intracostals & Airway Muscles
  • 00:20:11 Two Breathing Oscillators: Pre-Botzinger Complex & Parafacial Nucleus
  • 00:26:20 How We Breathe Is Special (Compared to Non-Mammals)
  • 00:33:40 Stomach & Chest Movements During Breathing
  • 00:36:23 Physiological Sighs, Alveoli Re-Filling, Bombesin
  • 00:49:39 If We Don’t Sigh, Our Lung (& General) Health Suffers
  • 01:00:42 Breathing, Brain States & Emotions 
  • 01:05:34 Meditating Mice, Eliminating Fear 
  • 01:11:00 Brain States, Amygdala, Locked-In Syndrome, Laughing
  • 01:16:25 Facial Expressions
  • 01:19:00 Locus Coeruleus & Alertness
  • 01:29:40 Breath Holds, Apnea, Episodic Hypoxia, Hypercapnia
  • 01:35:22 Stroke, Muscle Strength, TBI
  • 01:38:08 Cyclic Hyperventilation
  • 01:39:50 Hyperbaric Chambers
  • 01:40:41 Nasal Breathing, Memory, Right vs. Left Nostril
  • 01:44:50 Breathing Coordinates Everything: Reaction Time, Fear, etc.
  • 01:57:13 Dr. Feldman’s Breathwork Protocols, Post-Lunch 
  • 02:02:05 Deliberately Variable Breathwork: The Feldman Protocol
  • 02:06:29 Magnesium Threonate & Cognition & Memory 
  • 02:18:27 Gratitude for Dr. Feldman’s Highly Impactful Work
  • 02:20:53 Zero-Cost Support, Sponsors, Patreon, Instagram, Twitter, Thorne

Please note that The Huberman Lab Podcast is distinct from Dr. Huberman's teaching and research roles at Stanford University School of Medicine. The information provided in this show is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. The Huberman Lab Podcast, its employees, guests and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.

Title Card Photo Credit: Mike Blabac -

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