Huberman was born at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, CA. As a child, Huberman liked to read the encyclopedia and share the knowledge he learned. At around age six, he handed out dechlorination drops to people who won goldfish at the local street fair, knowing the fish would die if they weren’t kept in the right conditions.
Huberman recalls his early years as idyllic, remembering soccer, swimming, and fort-building as his favorite pastime activities. His mother is an American children's book author, and his father is an Argentine physicist. At age thirteen, when his sister had left for college, his parents divorced. Following his parents' divorce, he spent much of his time skipping school and skateboarding.
Huberman's interest in neuroscience was sparked by his professor at University of California, Harry Carlisle. He graduated from the university with a degree in psychology with a biological emphasis. At the time, he was particularly drawn to the subjects of thermal regulation in the human body and the biology of addiction. For Huberman's senior thesis, he examined how MDMA ecstasy causes changes in body temperature.
Following Carlisle's guidance, Huberman attended a master's degree program at Berkeley, where he met Carla Shatz, a neurobiologist. Per Shatz's recommendation, Huberman joined Barbara Chapman's new laboratory in Davis to gain experience and work on his PhD.
In 2017, Huberman completed the development of a virtual reality platform designed to investigate the neural and autonomic mechanisms present in fear and anxiety responses. The development involved capturing 360-degree videos of various fear-inducing situations in real life to create VR scenes exposing patients to phobic triggers, such as heights for patients with acrophobia, small spaces for patients with claustrophobia, or swimming in open water with great white sharks for patients with galeophobia. According to Huberman, the platform's primary objective was to develop new tools to help people with stress management stress, anxiety, and phobias as a supplement to clinical therapies.
In May 2018, Huberman's research lab reported the discovery of two new mammalian brain circuits in a publication in the scientific journal Nature. The article explores the role of the proposed circuits in fear and anxiety-induced paralysis and confrontational reactions to threats. This led to ongoing research into the function of these brain regions in anxiety-related disorders, such as phobias and generalized anxiety in humans.
In 2020, Huberman's lab began its collaboration with Dr. David Spiegel's laboratory in the Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences to examine how particular respiration patterns synergize with the visual system to impact autonomic arousal and stress, as well as other brain states, including sleep.
In 2021, the result of Huberman's lab collaboration with Dr. Edward Chang was outlined in Current Biology, namely that specific patterns of insular cortex neural activity may be linked to anxiety responses and may thus be potentially used as anxiety predictors. In 2023, the first experimental results were published as a randomized, controlled trial in Cell Reports Medicine, demonstrating the effectiveness of specific brief patterns of deliberate respiration in alleviating stress as well as improving mood and sleep.
Huberman’s podcast engages guests in the discussion of diverse topics, including fitness, learning, creativity, hormones, fertility, grief, trauma, and happiness. The website features free newsletters offering guidelines for improving sleep or neuroplasticity.
Huberman Lab was among the top ten most popular podcasts on Spotify in the US. It ranked third on global reach according to Chartable, a company that tracks podcast rankings. Huberman's podcast has been viewed more than 140 million times on YouTube, and his monthly newsletter has over 100,000 subscribers. Since his rise to fame, Huberman has been involved in a number of controversies, including his endorsement of his paid advertisers’ nutritional supplements.
Huberman is a supporter of psychedelic-assisted therapy. One episode of the podcast featured Robin Carhart-Harris as a guest, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of California. In the episode, Carhart-Harris discussed how psychedelics, such as psilocybin, LSD, and DMT, affect the human brain and the substances' potential for treating various mental health ailments, such as major depression, anorexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and addiction. The discussion touched upon how researchers control for placebo effects in psychedelic research. Theorizing that psychedelic therapies may soon be incorporated into mainstream methods of mental health treatment, Huberman and Carhart-Harris also discussed the risks associated with them.
At the Psychedelic Science 2023 conference in Denver, Huberman appeared onstage to talk about his own mental health challenges and how he had long been wary of psychedelic drugs such as MDMA, which he once believed could cause severe brain damage. However, he has since shifted his view due to new research. Huberman disclosed that he had started taking MDMA himself under the supervision of a trained professional a few years prior.
Huberman is a proponent of exposing eyes to bright artificial lights or sunlight shortly after waking, which comes from the understanding that the retina plays a crucial part in stimulating the brain. According to Huberman, this activates photosensitive melanopsin ganglion cells (light-sensitive neurons), in effect waking the brain and subsequently the body.
Huberman considers intermittent fasting to have “a very powerful and positive impact” on “various health parameters” linked to a longer health span, including increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering blood pressure, oxidative stress, and inflammation.
According to Huberman, muscles are important for general health and longevity; particularly movement and metabolism.
Huberman is a proponent of supplementing fish oil daily since it contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid, citing peer-reviewed data regarding its antidepressant and blood lipid profile effects as motivators.
Heather Maio, a gym owner from New York, said she became interested in Huberman’s teachings after benefitting from them, particularly cold bathing. According to Maio, she took cold baths consistently for over a year and claimed that it had positive effects on her mood and metabolism. Maio praised Huberman's advice for not being as strict as other self-care methods.
Over the years, Huberman has faced criticism for his endorsement of supplement brands. Athletic Greens, an all-in-one daily supplement powder advertised on his Huberman Lab podcast, is composed of seventy-five ingredients in total, including vitamins A, B6, C, E, K2, as well as minerals, spirulina, chlorella, fruit concentrates, antioxidants, herbal extracts, digestive enzymes, mushroom powder, and two different bacterial strains, although the ingestion of vitamins and mineral supplements in large doses can be harmful to health and cause toxicity.
Jonathan Jarry opined in an article for McGill Office for Science and Society that most people do not need a multivitamin. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends against taking beta-carotene and vitamin E supplements to prevent heart disease or cancer. The organization has stated that there is insufficient basis to recommend taking any other vitamin supplement without first demonstrating a deficiency.
Jarry questioned the data on the efficacy of supplements, opining that “Someone like Professor Huberman should be aware of these things, but that does not appear to be the case.” It is true that many studies have shown the limited benefits of supplements, although some research is more favorable.
While Huberman agrees that supplements are “not absolutely necessary” and cannot serve as substitutes for fundamental contributors to good health, such as sleep, nutrition, and exercise, he also believes they can be beneficial when used alongside those things, maintaining that there is solid science to back up everything he talks about on the podcast. Huberman's intent is to make it clear when he is discussing preliminary research or single studies. In addition, he routinely reminds listeners that he is a professor, not a physician, and therefore he is “professing” rather than prescribing.
Some products have appropriated Huberman's endorsement without his consent or knowledge. Huberman informed his followers on X (previously Twitter) that advertisements appropriating his and his podcast's name, clips, images, and quotes may not be products he endorses.
In one podcast episode focusing on the subject of cannabis, Huberman reiterates the common distinction of two main cannabis types—indica and sativa—as having different effects on the human brain. However, research shows that genetically, it is impossible to prove whether a cannabis plant is an Indica or Sativa because there is no difference in the genes.
According to Robin van Velzen, a botanist at Wageningen University, the difference has more to do with the specific terpene profile found in a particular cannabis plant. Having conducted research on cannabis, van Velzen found that "Cannabis labeled as Sativa often contains higher concentrations of single terpenes with tea-like and fruity aromas, while Indica samples generally contain higher concentrations of terpenes with an earthy smell such as myrcene, guaiol, gamma-elmene, and gamma-eudesmol."
Researchers at Dalhousie University arrived at similar findings, as their studies demonstrated that strains labeled indica were frequently just as closely related to strains labeled sativa as they were to other strains labeled indica. In certain cases, slight correlations between indica and sativa labels and a small number of aromatic terpenes were found.
Indica-labeled strains tended to have higher amounts of the terpene myrcene, which is thought to contribute to the sedative effect discussed by Huberman. On the other hand, strains labeled sativa had higher amounts of sweet and herbal terpenes, like farnesene and bergamotene. Thus, Huberman's theories regarding the two strain types may not be completely accurate or up to date, although the error appears to be primarily terminological.
Huberman has a number of academic appointments, is the recipient of multiple honors and awards, and has served on various advisory boards. He has received his bachelor's and master's degrees in Psychology as well as a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, and his postdoctorate degree was completed at Stanford University.
- Associate Professor, Neurobiology
- Associate Professor (by courtesy), Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
- Member, Bio-X
- Member, Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance
- Member, Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute
- Cogan Award for Contributions to Vision Science and Ophthalmology, ARVO (2017)
- Pew Biomedical Scholar Award, Pew Charitable Trusts (2013–2017)
- McKnight Neuroscience Scholar Award, McKnight Endowment Fund (2013–2016)
- Catalyst for a Cure Investigator, Glaucoma Research Foundation (2012–present)
- Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow, HHWF Foundation (2006–2009)
- Allan G. Marr Prize for Best Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Davis (2005)
- ARCS Foundation Graduate Fellowship Award, ARCS Foundation (2003)
- Graduation with Honors and Distinction in Major, University of California, Santa Barbara (1998)
- Wu-Tsai Neurosciences Seminar Committee Chair, Stanford University (2021–2022)
- Faculty Search Committee, Neurobiology/Molecular Neuroscience, Stanford School of Medicine (2019–2020)
- Faculty Search Committee, Neurosurgery Chair, Stanford School of Medicine (2019–2020)
- Within-Department Tenure Review Committee, Neurobiology, Stanford School of Medicine (2019–2019)
- Editorial Board, Faculty of 1000 (2018–present)
- Faculty Search Committee, Neurobiology/Molecular Neuroscience, Stanford School of Medicine (2018–2019)
- Editorial Board, Neural Development (2016–)
- Editorial Board, Cell Reports (2016–2022)
- Editorial Board, Current Opinion in Neurobiology (2016–2018)
- Within-Department Tenure Review Committee, Neurobiology, Stanford School of Medicine (2016–2016)
- Editorial Board, The Journal of Comparative Neurology (2015–present)
- Research Committee Co-chair, Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego (2014–2015)
- Associate Editor: Systems/Circuits, The Journal of Neuroscience (2013–2018)
- Editorial Board, Current Biology (2011–present)
- Faculty Recruitment Committee, Neurobiology, University of California, San Diego (2011–2014)
- Seminar Committee, Neurobiology Section Chair, University of California, San Diego (2011–2013)
- Neuroscience Graduate Program Admissions Committee, University of California, San Diego (2011–2012)
- Postdoc, Stanford University, Neuroscience (2010)
- PhD, University of California, Davis, Neuroscience (2004)
- MA, University of California, Berkeley, Psychology (2000)
- BA, University of California, Santa Barbara, Psychology (1998)
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