Dr. Thomas Dannhauser is a consultant psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and health entrepreneur with more than 20 years’ of clinical experience. He qualified in London and received his PhD from University College London where he was appointed Honorary Senior Lecturer in psychiatry.
He used the skills and experience that he gained to help his patients with cutting-edge, research-based treatments to prevent, cure and treat mental health problems. The treatment and health promotion programmes that he has developed have already helped more than 20 000 people. In this episode we discuss Dr. Dannhauser’s background and how Owaves can help aid in mental health.
Dr. Haroon Kazem: Hey guys thanks for joining us on another episode of the Body Clock Podcast by Owaves. If you haven’t already please remember to download the free Owaves app on the Apple App Store. It’s the number one wellness app on the App Store. It’s fun. It’s easy to use and it will allow you to effectively plan your day. It works great as a visual planner. And please remember to tell your friends and family. Also if you’re enjoying the show please do us a huge favor and leave us a five star rating on your podcast app as always. Thanks for listening and hope you enjoy the show.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Hi guys welcome to another episode of the Body Clock Podcast. Today we have our guest who is a consultant psychiatrist and neuroscientist as well as a health entrepreneur and his name is Dr. Thomas Dannhauser. He also has a Ph.D. And I’ll be asking a bit more about his background because he is a very interesting journey and what I found most interesting was linked to lifestyle medicine which of course Owaves is focusing so, Hi, Thomas. How are you doing?
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: Hi Sohaib. I am very well and thank you very much for inviting me onto your podcast.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Great. I mean the pleasure is mine. We’ve got a lot to discuss on this podcast because I recently connected with you on LinkedIn and was very interested in your work around lifestyle medicine, mood, and the prefrontal cortex, so we’ll be diving into that. But before starting, could you please go into a bit of your background for the listeners?
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: Yeah sure. I actually find this question quite interesting because I often asked my patients this question because I think if you know where somebody started in life then it can fairly accurately predict for a lot of them why they are where they are, and where they might be going. So I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. I grew up in South Africa. I studied medicine there and then moved to the United Kingdom where I trained as a psychiatrist. And I’m an adult and old age psychiatrist and I then also completed a BHP in Mental Health Sciences at University College London.
And my interest in lifestyle medicine, I would say, was sort of further stimulated there because I became interested in how the brain functions and in particular attention and how it works in dementia and then had a foray into developing dementia prevention intervention which was all lifestyle intervention. So, in a nutshell, so I say that’s that’s how I’ve ended up where I am at the moment with a very strong interest in lifestyle medicine, in cognition and how to augment it. And I think that’s where we have a large shared interest because of course if you want to change your behavior and your lifestyle you’ve got to have your brain working with you.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s very interesting, because interestingly enough I was in my first year of medical training. I’m in my second year. I had a fourth-month placement in dementia in psychiatry and my question to the consultant was always, What are you doing towards lifestyle? And they didn’t really have an answer. They touched upon it, but that’s where you’re leading light because you’ve kind of said how lifestyle is obviously the way we can kind of prevent dementia or kind of enhancement to our cognition and memory. So why is there not more doctors like yourself who are looking at prevention and lifestyle medicine?
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: To be honest, I don’t know what the ratio is. Shall I say all doctors looking at lifestyle interventions with you know versus pharmacological and other interventions? I’m sure there’s a disproportionate number of pharmacological interventions because it’s funded you know and it’s and it’s focused. So when I became interested in lifestyle medicine, is around the time that I realized from the research that was available, that dementia for most people develops over a long course, so 10 to 15 years.
So even if you end up with vascular dementia following a stroke, you usually have certain vascular disease that is developed over a long period of time. So, I realized that if you want to prevent dementia then you’ve got to start earlier. And hence the thinking for study that we developed, and with the specific aim of changing lifestyle and introducing what we thought were the most promising lifestyle changes and reducing that at this stage earlier than dementia. So in what’s known as Mild Cognitive Impairment, where people who have it they have some cognitive impairment but they don’t have functioning impairment and we were lucky enough to get a generous grant from actually from the County Council in in Essex who bears most of the of the economic cost of dementia. So we developed it we gave it a good name.
The thinking that study and the thinking method. And basically what we did is we found engaging and fun way to get senior citizens who had some cognitive impairments who had mild cognitive impairment engaged in socializing physical activity and brain training using devices such as iPods OK. That’s very interesting. Now let’s get into what what what. Because you’re asking about why why isn’t there more of it what we showed. I mean the main finding is that it can be done. So we develop the intervention and show that you can get very high levels of engagement and adherence to these activities. If you program it and design it in the right way.
So what we did is we went and we scanned quite broadly and we went to for instance you know the hotel and restaurant industry and looked at how do they how do they make the you know restaurant experience or hotel experience engaging for clients so we did things like you know make you know coffee with a percolator because the smell is associated with with premium experiences even though no one drank the coffee. So it was really a fun experience that that to be designed and the initial findings that we had from this which was a pilot study was that it improved physical health and cognitive health, mood and quality of life.
It was interesting because the County Council after we’d done it couldn’t afford to roll it out and I think that might be part of why people are looking for for medication. But interesting enough it was picked up by a charity in based in Bangalore India who invited us. We trained them on implementing the the actual thinking for that. And the last time I spoke to them they had over 600 people taking part in the intervention and they reported very good outcomes in terms of their patients who are insulin dependent,being able to come off insulin and just being helped with oral anti diabetic medications and everyone losing weight and almost in a way we were laughing because they said they had a problem because the people become addicted to thinking fat because they prefer doing that and then doing other things that are sort of expected from senior citizens in India.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So this was focused on kind of preventing dementia. So wouldn’t the pensions applied in people when they were kind of getting dementia or at a young age. What kind of this one was that.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: This one was that people at risk. So I said OK if you have this diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment the way that we apply the diagnosis seven I was lucky enough to work in a in an excellent memory clinic it was started by one of my patients supervisors Dr. Susanna Walker. And how predictable it was so let’s say you had a 75 percent risk of converting to dementia if you had a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment from our clinic. So in the right hands a tiny predictive.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Ok. So do things like your memory kind of scores or your cognitive speech processing speed is the metrics we can measure at a young age which predict cognitive decline. What lifestyle factors can be applied at a young age which can help you enhance your cognition and be slowed down the decline.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: The answer to this is very interesting because it will also explain to you why I changed my focus from from mainly working in dementia to actually working with younger people and adults with attention problems. I came across some fascinating research published in the past decade that looked at the correlation between attention or concentration measured at a young age and health outcomes. Now if you think about if you use ADHD as a as an example and you know an extreme condition in a way that serves as a good example of young people with ADHD you are much more likely to have physical health problems chronic physical health problems.
So it’s associated with for instance with obesity with smoking with poor dental hygiene and a lot of these are risk factors for dementia downstream. And it’s also it’s interesting it’s not just you know children with ADHD who are at risk these lifetime studies show that if you compare the let’s say lower 20 percent of attention performance in the top 20 percent of attention performance that there is a significant increase in risk and the low attention performance of those I mentioned addictions chronic poor health poverty crime unsafe sex and teenage pregnancy all of which if you are affected by them make it difficult to get in to a routine which is what what always Owaves is they’re interested in and promoting and supporting people to to get into.
So you can test the tension in young people of course it’s you know it’s it’s done and it can be done very well and it’s not readily available. That’s one of the things that we do it smart not minds as we are trying to make it available to to as many young people as possible. And then you can identify people with a much higher risk of suffering from poor health and that’s why in the in the talk that you mentioned that I gave about lifestyle medicine in my view health is closely correlated with your attention ability and it’s mediated via your prefrontal cortex.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: OK. That’s very insightful. So Smart.minds you are testing attention. What other factors are you testing?
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: So we take the view that we want to start with. Almost I’d say the this sort of the prenatal bits we want to know what parents were if they were affected by any condition such as ADHD do which is highly heritable. And we want to know if during pregnancy the child had was exposed due to some difficulties. We want to know at birth if they had you know the umbilical cord around the neck or they had hypoxia for some hypoxia for some other reason. Because there’s increasing evidence that indicates that children who have these difficulties are much more likely to be diagnosed with attention problems.
Is it a reliable correlation between premature birth and low birth weight and being diagnosed with attention problems. Then we look at early development to see if there are any indications of some difficulty with cognitive development. We want to know about stresses so emotional stress so there’s a list of 16 stresses that are most likely to cause emotional problems which can then of course look like an attentional problem. So we want to to identify or exclude those. Then we look at actual educational attainment. So are there any indications on Mathematics English go coordination know any of those indicators that might suggest a cognitive impairment and we look at emotional symptoms.
So children of course who might go on to sign from bipolar disorder can have it from a fairly young age and they may initially look like they have an attention problem so we need to exclude that there’s a number of conditions like that that we specifically try to screen for. And most recently we’ve added specific measures about social media and gaming addiction and abuse which in our experience is the fastest growing risk factor for attention problems and of course you know I’d say harmful changes to your lifestyle.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I think game disorders also kind of categorized as a disorder in its own light this year is that correct.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: That’s right. So recently it was added to the diagnostic manual so yeah so I think it’s a very important modern problem.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Yeah. In that presentation you also talked about self control and kind of predictor of health. How does that work? What’s the correlation?
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: So when I talk about the tension and concentration if you talk to each other it’s a general so in in lay terms what people talk about attention concentration. Psychologists often talk about persistence on task which is a measure of the likelihood of a child completing a fairly boring task over an extended period of time. And that measure correlates very closely with academic performance. So we know that 62 percent of academic performance is due to your attention ability alone. So all the other things that parents and teachers and people might be interested in such as what school you are going to if it’s a private school or the state school.
How pushy your parents are or shall I say. What aspirations they have for you. How much money they have to spend on your education the subjects you choose. All of that together including your genetic inheritance from your parents. That counts for less than just your ability to pay attention as measured on a simple attention test between folks from the age of three and a half for a sort of full or upward so. So with this information if you can actually you can introduce this and test children you should be able to identify at an early age who would benefit from four more support to get into healthy lifestyle routines.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: And so because Owaves actually is targeting students at the moment at universities is what level of challenge for the brain or kind of academic engagement is predictive of kind of slowing the decline of your cognition? Is it people who are studying more kind of mathematical subjects or literary subjects or you know not at least studying is any links to that?
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: They are the last time I looked at this, the two strongest associations of your occupation and being a protective factor against cognitive decline dementia was for people who worked with data so spreadsheets. Accounting I would say if you want to think about a common sort of proficient that works like that and working with people. Interesting is that working with your hands in manual labor or so they say occupations were actually not associated with a risk reduction in risk of dementia.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: OK so it seems you can keep your mind engaged on a just pretty good for being programmers in tech people avoid dealing you know do a programming languages and date all the time. I’m guessing they will right. And I think.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: Sorry.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: You protected. That’s right. And what I find very interesting about the association with dealing with people is that we realized when we developed the thinking program that actually socializing is one of the things that that senior citizens who start having difficulty in their cognition finds difficult quite early on. So one of the things that we did in the in the project is we gave everyone a name tag every time we had a meeting. And it just sort of in a way broke the ice because they would feel awkward about not knowing someone’s name and they would therefore not start a conversation. And when I actually looked into the Cognitive Neuroscience surrounded it really as some of the hardest processing that you can do.
So for instance you and I are having this conversation. So if I could see you it would be harder because I would have to process if your facial expression indicates to me that you are following what I’m saying that you agree with you. Do you agree with it, that you like it. And so it’s a lot more cues that have to be that have to be processed. So that’s why I think socializing people socialize regularly that it really does stretch their cognition. So you know they’re not not that surprising in my view that that dissociation was shown up.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: As an incredible insight because socializing is one of the main pillars of lifestyle medicine. Normally the one that probably gets overlooked the most because and you know with physical activity you can prove all that kind of you know HJ1C, glucose, cholesterol etc. with nutrition similarly quite measurable socializing I guess is something which isn’t as measurable but as you’ve kind of demonstrated in that it has a massive effect on your cognition. So if we look at it from so so in this topic what I find fascinating is. So dementia is always you looking at dementia you’ve already got a cognitive problem and you’re trying to solve it. So on the reverse side of it is your kind of normal brain health but you’re trying to enhance it with the other side of the spectrum. So would socializing improve your cognition as well from baseline?
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: I believe it would. So if if you are stretching yourself all the time. So in general I think the sort of doing something different is a is a golden rule in stimulation. So if you are spending time with the same people you know it’s unlikely that it that it will be as beneficial as meeting new people. So yeah because you know I’ve met you today for the first time in what we would call in person. So I had to learn how to pronounce your name. I have to learn your accent I have to be interested in what your background is because when I respond to that and ask you about that it promotes friendship. So if I didn’t do any of that you know I might as well be you know not so smart.
So that is all hard cognitive work and good cognitive work. So getting outside of your comfort zone meeting new people you hearing what they are doing listening to their stories and experiencing new things with them I think is is extremely stimulating. This is one of the things we really promoted and we found that it was. It was the single most engaging and well attended part of the thinking program. Our participants loved the social but we in a way when we spoke with them they said they would basically do anything we asked as long as they can meet and chat. So I think it’s very important to keep that in mind. And I found it interesting looking at at Owaves and and and you know I must congratulate you on your team on building a beautiful app.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Thanks.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: The importance of accountability in getting into a new routine. Must not be underestimated. So what we did is during the thinking fits that study is we would make sure that all of the participants in a group and the group sizes were selected very specifically that they would become closer and closer connected so that it’s if somebody does not attend a session it wouldn’t be the organizers that would come to them. They would contact them themselves. They would say where were you. How are you. So the sort of social cohesion drives it. Then you have all of these amazing subconscious processes related to connectedness that drive things in the right direction.
And if you if you’ve read about it but if for instance we know that there are studies that show that you know if if in your group of friends somebody joins your group of friends and then they weigh significantly more or less than the group then it will drive the total weight of the group either up or down. So we went to smart was thinking about completely engineering small groups of eight to almost in a way engineer out unhelpful behaviors. So for instance saying that you know if you have a group of seven people who don’t smoke and you get one smoker in there would be enormous pressure on them to stop smoking. Whereas if it was the other way round you might have the opposite outcome.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: To such subtleties that we may not notice have such a massive impact on what happens. I mean that’s really insightful for me that even the composition of kind of groups as humans how our thought processes and behavior is so influenced by others. Thanks for the compliment on Owaves. That’s Owaves. We’re building a social timeline where you form these circles of friends to kind of help you live healthier and motivate each other to be healthier by seeing Hey X is actually going to the gym this many times a week or is eating at this cafe.
So from that it’s more tangible processes. So I mean Royan the CEO will be very happy to kind of listen to what you’ve just said because essentially a lot of health behaviors we do in isolation nowadays with such busy lives. But if through Owaves we can demonstrate through our ways we can demonstrate that someone doing an activity influence someone else to do it and you can almost showcase the healthy life you’re living. It could probably motivate other people to do similar. As you’ve said by one member of a group being added or being taken away has a net influence. So that’s just really useful.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: To be very interesting to study it because I’m also aware that there is a generational difference in the let’s say the level of connectedness that that people feel with each other when they when they interact online. So I’m very fortunate to work with an excellent psychologist Dr. Marcus and he pointed out some research that was done that shows for young people. They released the same amount of oxytocin when they engage online as when they do when the guy is engaging person whereas for adults who are older, so I’d say my generation and I’m in my 40s. It doesn’t have the same effect as there’s a significantly larger amount of oxytocin from friendship and love. So they say a hormone released when people meet in person as compared to to meeting online. So so it might be interesting to find out what I say I predict to that that you’d have stronger ethics with an online social group from younger people than from I’d say you know people who are over 65 and and know more at risk of dementia.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Ok see your prime that way because some always were hoping that once you form these circles it helps you do tasks together almost as if someone was going to the gym if you know they’re going as their friend you could be like you could kind of send it emoji and be like I am also going at this time so you could kind of do tasks together so it not only increases your maybe online interaction but the aim ultimate aim is to increase the offline interaction to kind of help people’s O’S their routines fit together more seamlessly and to improve that human to human interaction. But that’s interesting we’ve said with young people as well. I’m guessing it’s because we’re primed that way. We’ve grown up on social media. So for us maybe an Instagram connection we see almost equal to you know seeing someone in class. Is that what you’d hypothesized?
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: So I mean that’s certainly what the what the evidence supports so that that is what actually happens. And it’s interesting you think thinking about it in practical terms because if we had your app available when we were running we’re thinking that trial I would have definitely tried to get it introduced because I would think that if you start first with a physical group and you then use it as a tool to make it more fun and easier to actually to do exactly what you are talking about to motivate and hold each other to account then it can be very powerful. It would be interesting to see how powerful it is. If you have people who connect online who might be you know living in different time zones and you know obviously the implications how powerful that would be.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: And I’m just saying so. I mean I look to your presentation and you are someone who is a fan of digital technology which is not always the case with doctors and obviously you’re a very kind of rare case where you’re both interested in lifestyle medicine which is very new and as well as being so highly expert in the field of cognitive neuroscience and psychiatry. But then you’ve got that third part as well. So you’ve got a complete spectrum of kind of digital technology is the enabler which which which I love about kind of reading about your profile because it connects everything because if you say oh this expert knowledge you have at the moment the best way the best medium to impact as many people as possible is digital technology and social media. So that’s really refreshing. So with so what else can you tell us from cognitive neuroscience and behavior in US forming habits. A what. What are the nuances of people forming healthy habits or what stops us and what are the barriers and what are the kind of enablers.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: I think I think that there’s a lot of useful sort of like rules and research that can that can help you design behaviour change programs. I was fortunate enough to to come across and work with Professor Ben Fletcher and his wife Professor Karen Pine who developed the do something different program and it’s on its own a fascinating program and I would almost recommend to you that you get in touch with them and you know and do a podcast with them because they develop this this this very simple but very powerful technique to change your behavior. And they develop the theory around it. So so how they view it is that our behavior and our routines is held together in a network of connected behaviors cues from the environment and from your motivation and mood. And if you can. So it’s very difficult to change the core beliefs and behaviors but what you can change is the outer layer.
And if you do that it destabilizes the whole system making you more flexible and more likely to change your behavior. And they found this. They discovered this in an interesting way. They were tasked to study the the threat of an epidemic shall I say of obesity amongst teenage unmarried mothers in the Midlands. And they initially thought that these young mums would be obese because they just eat a huge amount of calories. But actually what they found is that they have a very restrictive behaviour pattern so they eat the same thing and several of them they stop in the same shop they watch the same TV show. So they develop this do something different every day program which simply introduced on challenging little changes to behaviour over a period of time. And it resulted in in in in very impressive reduction in weight. So they developed the program and it’s available in several different languages.
There’s a there’s a very good program on line which you can find a DSD to me and what you can do then a sense in a way we use this in our thinking study has the as an initial step to to make our participants more flexible. So I would say if somebody is is is asking me to do to change their behaviour I would start with that if I if I had the time. So that’s a good thing to keep in mind then in terms of your behaviour. They said it’s very strongly correlated to your place your external and internal environment of course of all your external environment you can change. I did this when I became more interested in behaviour change. I went took off a lot of paintings and posters and things that I had in my house waited for a special on I think it was the print printed up several large a sides photos that were inspirational Jimmy and put them up wherever I was spending most of my time.
So those cues I think can actually help keep you in in in a new behaviour and take on a new behaviour. Then of course in terms of your internal environment talking about your thoughts and your beliefs I I recently I’d say recently probably in the last two years came across self talk the concept of self talk and the people who’ve been developing programs for that such as the Shard helps that if we’ve been doing it for it looks like a few decades in the United States and I believe it’s very powerful and underutilized and it simply works on the same principles as marketing and advertising. If you were exposed to some things enough that neither you’ll start doing it or you’ll be prime so that when opportunity does arise that you will choose it. So I think that’s another daft to too. And then of course I believe in sport. So I think if you if you are noticing that you on your own are unable to change to make the behaviour change that’s required.
I’d recommend coaching or support and that could come from you know expert coaches or from informal coaches and support from your family members. So I’d say in terms of behaviour change that’s that’s that’s not digital shall I say. Apart from that from the do something different brand best of course and then write digital. That’s what I would be looking at in terms of apps. I think that certainly something like Owaves is an excellent start because it’s a beautiful app. It’s colorful, it’s fun to use. I’ve tried probably 15 since I had my first iPhone and they come and go because you know they are just not engaging and not engaging in enough information I say. Do you think if you have a highly engaging app and there’s feedback and you build in the accountability that would be very useful as well.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: It really validates what we’re doing and this is very kind someone so highly qualified is saying such nice things for Owaves which is interesting because I’m coaching as well so we’re always we’re trying to make it a platform for coaching. So at the moment we’re doing our beta trial at U of San Diego and we’ve got a few students who check in with a coach every week through the digital platform and that’s where we’re going with this because as obviously you know better than me coaching is where the video kind of helps people change their lifestyles. And so you talked about accountability and then things like written goals. What about incentives as people what kind of incentives help people healthier.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: To what I know about incentives mostly comes from my interest in again in preventing dementia and helping people who started to concentrate in terms of ADHD. So if you again if you think of ADHD as a condition where the person who suffers from it does not want to be doing what they are doing so they are disappointed often disappointed in what they what they do then do. And so are the people around them. So it might be their parents or their teachers. So interesting work has been done around incentivizing people with ADHD to to change their behavior and it seems that two things are required. One is that the incentives have to be delivered more frequently and generally therefore the cost in a way shall I say to incentivize it is higher. So in a way it would be about thinking What is your price.
So if you are saying that you want to change say for instance your weight what would it take for you to do it. So I know in an excellent book Nudge they talk about the friends who are too. I think they have to write a check out for a certain amount of money if they had a way in that can be done at random. I would like drug testing for Olympic athletes and if the other person was over that way that check would be cashed. So I think that the incentive needs to needs to be high. But I think it’s very important to have the incentives. I I recently came across the chimp paradox book which to me maybe because I’m a psychiatrist I hope it’s equally accessible as an accessible and and useful to do more to the lay public.
But the author explains that was a very useful explanatory explanation and model of how we work in a way she looks at how the brain works and talking about war in a chimp and human sort of thought. So I think it’s very important as he says that you own will Gemma and you’ve got to manage your chimp and chimps respond to rewards so you’ve got to find out what your chimp considers a reward because it is more powerful than the human part of you. So I think it’s important to describe it and I think we important to reward yourself.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So I guess everyone assigns values to certain incentives slightly differently and I guess to be interesting winning a few thought experiments on kind of what level of say monetary value or happiness or some form of measure which is arbitrary as a value measure of what it takes for you to kind of do a certain other thing. And I guess that’s how you would get to a measurable way of incentivizing different people. So that’s very revealing actually. And you mentioned about self talk. So what is that is how does the self talk a lot of people because nowadays in the culture and social media a lot of motivational speakers and a lot of encouragement of people kind of repeating certain phrases or you know pushing past their struggles so so self talk has it shown physiological effects. Is there biochemical pathways of how it works.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: I mean the research on it is fascinating. You know the studies that have been done in terms of the of the potential power of self talk to speaks for themselves. We are smart minds are developing an elite sports product and we came across research that was done by a team in Canada that showed you can increase the power output during cycling insight. Close by. I think it was 28 percent by changing the self talk from negative to positive. So in a way I explained to to my clients that self to Jamie has three gears there’s negative neutral and positive. So the largest change you can have is from negative to positive and there are several studies that show similar results.
So I believe that with finding the most powerful self talk phrases and combining that with behavior and with the right emotions is one of the most powerful tools that we have in controlling our behavior and therefore getting to our goals. So very interesting if if any of the any of your your audience wants to look into it but I think it’s underutilized and underappreciated and it’s probably because it can’t be monetized in the same way the drugs can.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Exactly and that’s so much potential I mean that statistic you quoted is quite mind blowing because I mean we’re all doing these kind of especially in elite sports or chief executives and anyone who is kind of trying to perform at their best they’re trying to get these gains from you know different ways such as go you know going to the gym eating which is obviously very important but even something like simple self talk which is accessible to everyone you know if I can make such a difference. That’s pretty incredible and I imagine I’m guessing I guess top athletes probably or all of them already do this but imagine the kind of records they could set if they were applying kind of a rule based self talk system which I’m guessing your company’s probably working on that’s what that’s what you’re doing.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: And to tell you because we haven’t even spoken about the sort of core offerings that I say that we could get I might add small step minds which which relate to that. So so we provide near infrared spectroscopy based neurofeedback training. So it means that we use ordinary light which includes infrared light and we look at brain activation in real time in key areas of the brain most closely in the frontal cortex. And we train our clients how to voluntarily increase activation in these key areas which then result in improvement in their cognition behavior and the results that they afterwards. And we’ve been doing this for 15 years now I think for for ADHD and I’ve fairly recently developed a program for depression and bipolar disorder because I realized that self talk is a negative self talk is an integral part of these disorders. And as I said I believe that it can be changed.
Now the unique opportunity that we have with using neurofeedback is we can much more closely monitor if somebody is actually applying self talk and help them to train it so that it becomes more powerful. And it’s also very interesting that in ADHD it’s considered one of the core problems because it is used in planning. You use your planning as I usually say to our clients I say if you say to your child go upstairs brush your hair brush your teeth bring your book back and come back downstairs. What’s the likelihood of them doing that if they are likely to do it. It’s because they’ve got powerful reliable self talk that repeats the instructions. So it’s through planning.
We also use it for learning mathematics because if I say to you What’s one plus one and you say it’s two it’s not because you calculated it it’s because you completed my sentence because whilst you were schooling you know that was drilled into you then you also use it for motivation such as what we talk about that. So it’s about motivating yourself and saying you know positive things about what you’re going to do or what you can achieve. And then lastly which is very interesting. Again on the on the mental health side is that we use self talk to soothe ourselves. So the mechanism I believe how it works is that if you are a young child and you enjoy yourself and you run to your mom and you know you are crying then she will say you know OK you look okay it’s not bleeding it doesn’t be broken let’s clean it you know how to a glass of juice and you’ll be fine the next time that that happens that you’re injured and your mom is not there then you are likely to repeat what she said to yourself that being self talk and you consumed yourself.
So I find it interesting because I think there is a strong link with that with the increase of the risk of depression and ADHD for instance which is more than five times higher. I don’t think that they can apply their self talk in this same helpful way. And by the way this is not this is not my research. These are the excellent excellent work from Professor Russell Berkeley in the US and each team which developed this theory around self-taught which seems to explain most of the difficulties and ADHD.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Wow so almost so you talked about kind of the prefrontal cortex the role of that so it’s obviously the prefrontal cortex is works for working memory executive control attention inhibition areas planning speech. So this directly tie in with what you’re doing or what you’re trying to enhance with.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: Absolutely. That’s it. So we believe in it in a sort of a very simplistic way that we are exercising the muscle which is the prefrontal cortex that supports or that employs self talk does then helps you to control yourself. So we can exercise the muscle in the way that because of the neuro feedback method that you cannot do otherwise. We believe that we do that and we combine it with actually teaching them what we would call winning self talk then we expect to see very good results.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I think that could really help a lot of people perform to a much higher level than what they’re performing at. And I guess if you can measure that as well and kind of have the metrics that can be really powerful with data. Having said that, what do you think. So we talked about socializing being really important talked about self talk. What about meditation. How does meditation play with mood as well as cognition and kind of processing meditation.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: It’s very interesting to me. I love to meditate. I’m not the most accomplished but I’m very positive self talk about it. I’m getting better at it every day. And in a way does the opposite of what we do with the concentration and training during the feedback. So whereas we are training people how to focus very exclusively on specific sensory input with meditation. The best understanding that I have of it is that you are going to a level above the sensory stimulation that you have. So if you have someone who is who is likely to respond to their sort of background noise chatter in there in the head or the environment then it will be very beneficial for them in my view to meditate.
I think we are beneficial for everyone to do it. But I think that they might find more initial benefit because it will lead to less anxiety so anxiety we know releases hormones and cascades of sort of processes that is harmful in the long run. So I think if you can switch that off every now and again to reset it then you’ll enjoy a healthier life. Again building that into your routine good to think about how do you reward yourself. Because I think I found an excellent description of meditation in a book that I that I highly recommend to most of my clients called shooting the monkey. It’s a book that’s out of print. It was written by an American business coach.
What was his name it will come to me anyway. COLIN Turner and he said that you know basically the easiest way to learn how to meditate is just to sit and stare at a wall and it really is just initially that it’s actually just overpowering that feeling that says you’re wasting your time and should be getting up you should be doing that. So I think that that gaining that measure of control is very useful in tackling larger scale behavior change.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: And I’m guessing that would help you in the kind of I’ve read the book Thinking Fast thinking slow and how that helps kind of creativity as well and kind of reaching that flow state. What’s your opinion on kind of innovation and becoming more creative. We talked about how kind of socializing because the more as you said the more kind of diversity of people we meet. The more kinds of lenses we can see through things and look at different perspectives in our brain is being challenged so kind of the neuroplasticity of our brain is growing and so. So with that how do you see that fitting in.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: To see if I’m assigning what you are but jointly asking about creativity about how do we how do we boost our creativity for entrepreneurs yeah as an entrepreneur. So I find myself an entrepreneur. So I’m very interested in this as well. And I think that there are several mechanisms I think that for someone to be creative and they can be creative. You know you would be great if under under different circumstances. Depends on what you what you have to achieve.
But you’ve got to learn self mastery. You’ve got to find what works for you. So for some people it’s writing which I think is is a very powerful tool I believe in that I never again try and write more and more and getting yourself in the right state of mind to to write and to write creatively. I think again is is promoted by having a routine around it. So a specific place where you write. When do you drink much appeal before you do it or do you do some exercise. Whatever the case may be. But generally I think that it’s a very good friend of mine you know is a very good photographer and I ask him how does he do it. He said Well first of all I take a lot of photos.
So I think that you know the sort of stimulating your creativity and becoming good at being creative is just doing it. You know the more you do I think the better you get at it. I’m I believe that if you if you are able to add more light emotion to it so that you get into what we would say the state of flow where you are relaxed and you are completely stimulated you’re really enjoying this. That budget generally promotes it more than anything
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: And with brain training you touched upon earlier what brain training you recommend you recommend apps. Any programs any kind of ways of kind of optimizing your brain or preventing cognitive decline is not change does not change with the age or any activities that you should be doing quite regularly.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: My expertise in this is mostly related to young people and what we generally advise is this summer startled me from the disappointing side first I like to say people have been playing games for a long time and it’s it’s generally the results of that on cognition is underwhelming. So generally you know if you play a game a lot you get good at that game but you say the problem is that it doesn’t generalize. So some work was done in the last decade that showed if you do certain types of activity in several games in children that had certain characteristics including that it’s scaled or adapted to skill then they are beneficial effects but that is delayed by up to six months.
So I recall a study done on the cognitive training program and they found that mathematical skills improved but it was only six months later. So you’ve got to be patient. So there’s a lag. So based on my understanding of neuroscience and my experience what I recommend to two young people is that they if they if they play games or that they use up system of late it it’s good if it scales so it must adapt to to to your skill level. And it’s very good to talk while you’re doing it. So initially to use your talk because you use you start building your self talk which then as you become more proficient becomes anagrams now and then after a while when it’s overload behaviour becomes unconscious.
I think it’s the way that you go about it. So if you if if you are doing you know for instance a duke or we looked into this when when we were designing the thinking for somebody to have been playing to do it for the last 15 years and you think that that’s going to keep on stimulating you to reduce your risk of dementia. I don’t believe that’s the case. It would be going and doing something that you are not used to. And you know it because it will be a hard work initially. So I think whenever you find something challenging that’s when it’s good.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: The challenges are good for your brain and to kind of help kind of develop your brain further. So for students what would be your top tips for different kinds of exams for students or what kind of lifestyle tips the students and exercising before exams. What kind of diet. You know how much sleep. What would you generally recommend.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: Based on what I know it would be to get rid of your smartphone. Okay. The most compelling evidence around this comes from a British study that was completed in 2016 done on British. So we take your high school students. They showed that in the average the average 14 and a half year olds spent one point nine hours per day on discretionary screen time for every additional hour that they spend. They lost the equivalent of two grade averages at GCSE which is the exams that you do in the UK at the age of 16.
So that’s if you were having average BS you would go to average D and the reverse was true that if instead of using the sort of discretion screen time you spend one more time one more hour a day just reading that it can create the amount of physical activity they did and improved their results but at the time you know a GCSE by more than two great averages that say if you were a serious student and you really want to achieve. I would really get a very very firm handle on social media gaming television all the sort of screen time entertainment.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: And kind of optimizing your kind of lifestyle factors. So is there any benefit of things like in young people students having caffeine you know certain nootropics a big in America and also kind of a diet with you know Omega3 or what is your kind of understanding.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser:I know I studied medicine I was up many nights doing it and I would say you know I tried everything that was legally available at the time. So I completely understand the drive to do it. And my advice now would be to get something like Owaves get a good plan get a very good solid lifestyle embedded whilst you are a student because it is the foundation that your life for your future success. And I would say if you if you require a lot of you know legal illegal stimulants to get you to pass your exams then there is a significant risk that you are setting yourself up for failure because that is what it requires from you to jump over the hurdle to get the degree that you were after then it’s likely that once you have it it will require either that or even more sustained effort to get on in your career. So in my view it’s a false economy.
I would suggest rather that we spend more time helping students when they are younger to find the things that they are truly talented at and truly motivated to do because then they’ll be self-motivated. They won’t require any additional stimulation and they’ll feel the drive to optimize themselves. Whereas I think that unfortunately we still live in a society where a lot of what people end up doing isn’t really what they want to do but it’s something that either their parents wanted to do. So they’re living vicariously through them or is what society promotes because it benefits society corporations whoever else is in charge.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I would agree and that’s what I think a lot of entrepreneurs feel kind of self-motivated and that’s kind of a growing trend because people are combining their talents with their strengths and kind of reaching that sweet spot almost and with mood. So from a psychiatry point of view keeping your mood obviously so we have obviously fluctuations in our mood day today and when it becomes a disease state is classed as depression and anxiety. So what would you say is the best kind of preventing you developing depression anxiety from kind of normal fluctuations from obviously trauma and you know the normal kind of ills in life people face especially students who may have been less resilient or have less of a threshold to kind of cope or coping mechanisms for these triggers.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: Let me start by answering that but by briefly telling about one of our recent clients she is a student who came to London to come and do advanced degree at UCL and not long after she arrived really hard. You know what generally people would call a breakdown. She became anxious she became depressed she couldn’t function she wasn’t completing her assignments and after a few assessments I realized that she actually had a diagnosis of ADHD which had not been apparent because of her because of her cultural background. She lived with her parents and even though she had left school a number of years before that.
And they had obviously developed a very good system of helping her to manage. So when she was for the first time really away from home and out of her family routine she realized she didn’t have a routine and it was interesting with her because she just illustrated all of the useful things. So for instance she did a lot better when she was living with a flatmate who would help to structure their overall behaviour with more regular meals. We would ask her how she was so socialising so somebody was interested in your health. Somebody who you could talk to and just you know offload and also somebody would notice when you’re unwell and recommended you look for help. So I think the closer that you can get to a to a home sort of friendship supportive environment. As a student with a group of students who are intent on achieving so that there is an expectancy of high performance. I would say there’s other keys because the risk will then fall into place.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So forming those habits and that support system and routines and kind of helps you kind of always have that structure which kind of stops these disorders from developing. And would you see technology as having an increasing role. Because obviously we’re so we’re in a state of information overload. Most of the time now with so much information being thrown at us. So in terms of cognitive load and by the end of the day our decision making may not be optimal. So do you feel there’s a role for kind of virtual assistants or voice assistance to help facilitate out load and B help us make better decisions which are better for our health.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: I do and I find it, I find it very interesting that as you say and I think as Daniel perceives it that we are literally drowning in information you can find almost anything that you can think of on the Internet. And it really is just up to you to implement it if you want to have a desired result. And yet you know there’s an awful lot of unhappy people. So if you could have digital support from a virtual assistant on an application whatever it may be that can actually help you to sift through the information and really present you with the most valuable information. In my view that would be one of the most valuable things.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: It’d be like a travel system.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: Yes like a travel system. And hence the concerns that people have about something that is incredibly useful like Google because in some ways it’s very good because it creates the world’s sort of digital information but it also curated in a way that promotes certain things such as advertising. So it’s not unbiased. So I would say if it was possible to have an unbiased system like Google that really only promoted what was best for you without there being someone behind it then that in my view would be very useful. And then learning the discipline of not going down the rabbit hole so that if there is something that draws your attention away from what you are actually doing it or there’s a likelihood of actually disconnecting from that and in a way immunizing yourself so that it doesn’t happen.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Is any research on kind of natural environments of being out in nature helps calm you down or make you more folk making you more focused.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: Oh definitely I remember attending a lecture at the University of Essex where the psychology department had done a trial where they let people walk on a treadmill in the basement of one of the buildings and then also let them walk outside and measuring various things including happiness and and quality of life which correlates with your ability to pay attention. And what I often explain to people from a cognitive point of view if you say that you are driving and you you can actually see the number plate in front of the car in front of you your brain will read it because your brain has to first read something to decide if it is relevant to you or not.
So if you are in a in a in an inner city environment I can imagine somewhere like you know Times Square or new or Piccadilly Circus in London where there’s an awful lot of flashing stuff and things that you can read your brain has to process that it’s trying its best to make sense of it. So now you have the contrast where you are walking in nature. There’s nothing to read so immediately that part of your brain is resting. So yes you can be interested in the trees and that but there’s just not the same amount of processing that goes on because what people don’t realize is that processing still has to go on
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Okay. So sensory deprivation chambers can be something which could help people who are all always kind of processing all the stimuli around them we’d kind of our phones or laptops you know noises
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: I think it can. I think that you have to find that out for yourself. I’ve actually been in a in a in a sensory deprivation chamber and it was fun I actually enjoyed it less than what I thought I would. And it’s just because of you know my my sort of mental makeup shall I say. I think that people who have very troubling thoughts or traumas that they’ve not dealt with are at risk of these coming to the surface under those conditions. So I think that some preparation might be required but in terms of really shutting out the world you know sleeping with you know eye patch and with earplugs and things like that. I do that you know I recommend it.
I think that when you shut down and you’re resting it should be as restful as low stimulation as you as you possibly can do. And so so again thinking about the lifestyle and what you do with over waves is thinking about sprints and wave saying I’m going to study for twenty five minutes and then I’m going to have a break so that your your neural system can recharge. It’s a five minute break. But if you then go and do something highly stimulating like you know going on Facebook or Twitter whatever the case may be that is a false economy that is just you know as you know as we’d say That’s just your brain looking for a reward and it likes that reward that reward is not in my view overall conducive to better performance. It would be better to draw something or you know to listen to some music or that but low stimulation.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So scheduling rest time is just as important as scheduling all the rest of your life which I think is quite important here. And you talked about behavioral flexibility and humor as humans do we like doing different things because I mean I do like having my routine but I’m someone who I find I like challenging myself in different ways and I get bored quite easily. I don’t know if it’s because I’m part of the millennial generation where you know we don’t stick to task but I definitely get a maybe smart entrepreneurial personality as well. But I do like change. I like doing things in different ways all the time.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: So I think that definitely very personal. Because if you think for a minute about the clinical condition. So somebody who has autism or obsessive compulsive disorder might be inclined to want things to be exactly the same. So so they find it challenging if if certain things things have changed and an out of control whereas somebody who who might have on the other side ADHD would find it very very hard to to comply to very strict rules. Which brings us on to entrepreneurs. I have looked into it recently. Sometimes there’s some suggestion that there’s a disproportionate number of entrepreneurs who suffer from from ADHD. I couldn’t find evidence to prove it.
But in terms of of entrepreneurship if you think about you know all the all the coaching that I’ve had and what I’ve read about it the general themes are that you need to find a problem that’s worthwhile solving and it’s even better a problem affects you or the people around you because then your motivation will be high. Then if you have an approach where you don’t really do many new things but you’re able to stick to one thing you’ll probably be successful in the end.
So if you can persist on task eventually you’ll succeed. If you are if you’re a highly creative sorry you and you and you change what you do all the time you are in my view more likely to find a novel solution. But there’ll be a lot of cycles so there’ll be a you know there might be lots of failures before you before you find the right one but that creativity so I think you know sort of in a creative team. If you can find a creative team that can tolerate each other and can learn to live with their unique skills shall I say if you can have a combination of somebody who has high novelty seeking and is creative in that way and somebody who is very persistent and is creative in the sense that they unlock things because they persist for long enough. That’s a winning team
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s very well explained. It’s just amazing how much this neuroscience psychiatry space that is to cover. But I am tentative and I do recognize that we could go on and on. So to kind of bring this to a close I have just a few last questions because you just have so much to offer this is there’s no end and I’m very intrigued by so much in kind of neuroscience and psychiatry because it is what underpins everything we do.
So just before we bring this to an end there are devices being developed which are giving you feedback such as the Muse headband which claim they help you meditate better. It’s I can imagine it takes an EEG and gives you feedback that way. There was also a woman who’s working in tech in America who is doing quite a bit of work with kind of brain machine interfaces and how working memory can be expanded through a wearable. What’s your take on these on this kind of enhancement.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser:I’m 100 percent in favor of it and I believe it’s the future our mission at Smart not minds is to build the most powerful cognition of mounting solutions and to make them accessible to everyone. And ultimately that will be either an implanted or wearable device. And if you think about what we want to achieve is if you think about what you are interested in with Owaves and you say we have a large shared interest then if you get up in the morning with your good intentions and you compare when you go to bed on how well you execute it on them I’d say that your the measure of your personal genius at influencing your environment and adapting to it is measured by how closely those two overlap so your intentions and your output so if I could offer a solution to you that gets you closer to getting to what you desire in a way that constantly improves your health and well-being. Then I believe the world will be a much better place for everyone. So I think that that is the that is the holy grail really for for behavior change and being in control of yourself.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s a great line.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: So I’m interested in all of that though I’m not delighted when I see a new device the new approach because again somebody is going to do it.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I guess we’re kind of quantifying happiness as well. Happiness control as we move on with technology and optimizing those factors because ultimately how happy you are is what you’re feeling and that’s kind of should be measurable or helped using technology in some way and that also makes me want to ask a question about a lot happening in virtual reality and mental health and immersing people in different environments using VR. Have you come across anything in that space or are you interested in kind of the accessibility of people using smartphones or virtual reality headsets to kind of create environments that might make them feel happier or may even be therapeutic in some way for mental health conditions.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser:I’m again I’m totally in favor of that. One of my colleagues is also an entrepreneur and consultant psychiatrist. He with his team developed a virtual reality to an application to help people overcome specific phobias so they developed a very neat way of projecting a spider on to which I say it’s like looking through an iPod. So it shows you your hand it looks exactly like your hand just through a frame sort of like a window and that could then project the spider onto it that would look like it’s walking to actually desensitize people who have a record phobia. So using that as an example I think to to expose people who are who have phobias or who have had trauma in a controlled way.
I think it’s very useful to do that. And again I applaud all of the other work that’s that’s been been done on that. I’d say I’m more concerned about the virtual reality experiences that people are having that I don’t think is used to we find that a lot of young people are now being exposed to very real sort of real life situations virtual situations when they play games like fortnight for instance and call of duty when they are way too young to to understand everything that is actually going on.
And in a way it’s so real that it’s almost like training to become you know a soldier where hopefully that sort of skill wouldn’t be required any time. But it’s very stimulating and it leaves them dissatisfied and bored with everything else because it’s so stimulating. So I think it’d be good for floss to find a better way to promote the sort of healthy use of virtual reality and be more careful with what we expose young people to. That is also you know very real in these in this format.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I’m glad you highlighted that caution. Something I didn’t consider because as we’re almost mimicking real life like scenarios whilst not being in them or not being prepared for them the way our brain would respond or mature later on I’m guessing would be massive implications that we just don’t know at the moment. So I’m glad you’ve kind of picked up on that point. Got something people normally don’t consider.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: Some of it already some of the effects when I give a talk on the on the risks associated with social media and gaming and there is as if a nice study that was done showed young people who play violent video game for a week have reduced activation in a prefrontal area that is associated with empathy. And so that when they are shown images of people suffering that they don’t exhibit the same empathy response after playing these violent games and that by the.
So during the follow up period of the study which was a number of weeks from what I recall that that had not recovered so the risk is that we are introducing long term changes to two brain functioning and how empathetic empathetic people might be. As a result of these games and if you think about the concerns that you know there’s been for a long time about these games it’s you know we said well if you know if they are that dangerous why on the more people you know the sort of you know being physically violent against other people.
And I think that the risk is about becoming desensitized in a way so witnessing it and allowing it to happen whilst not necessarily being the perpetrator of these things have not been around for that long that I would say that we can say that’s safe. I think caution is advised.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So a lot of rewarding and stimulating experiences obviously triggered dopamine. So is does not have an effect. So you’re saying people are being satisfied by other activity which I think is true. So this kind of dopamine centric environment that obviously tech company is also creating a kind of addiction and addictive behaviors in people. So can this down the line cause us to develop things like depression?
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: We already have evidence of that so you know we have a number of young people who are our clients who have become addicted to it and if you remove it they are properly depressed. And it takes a number of weeks for them to make a recovery from it. It’s usually very satisfying because their parents usually say I got my child back. So I think it’s absolutely worthwhile being careful about it and also monitoring monitoring for it. I think in the long term even if you think about adults. So I’d say as a private psychiatrist one of the things that I’ve learnt in the last year was to ask about the use of pornography in both young men and women.
And so we are talking about adults of working age and it seems to be a rapid increase in in the child pornography addictions but it’s proper addiction. And the difficulty with pornography for instance is that it generates unrealistic expectations. So you can have someone who has a complete disconnect between what they consume in a way to satisfy their sexual desires and what they can and what they do in real life. So they might be completely awkward in relationships and it’s not getting any better because they are setting the standard of what excites them. You know in a virtual way that is unattainable in real life. So they end up unhappy or anxious or both. So I think the risks already there.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So satisfaction is between kind of expectations and what’s happening in that kind of that the wider that grows the more kind of unhappy we are. And so with a brain stimulation is the external devices that can be used to stimulate our brains.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: They are so both in terms of electricity so you can get transcranial direct current stimulation you can get transcranial magnetic stimulation which is catching on fast or as a treatment for depression. That would be the transcranial dynamic current relation also. And as far as I know what is FDA approved in the US I’m not aware that it’s caught on in the UK. It’s one of the things that I plan to introduce into my private practice being a neuroscience pioneer.
And then there is also very interesting work that has been done with near infrared light. So there’s an interesting phenomena where in. The energy producing cycle inside mitochondria certain wavelengths of light can give additional energy to the photons give it additional energy so it can actually boost the process. So again using an example from cycling I’m a habit cyclist. So of course I go for those studies first but it’s been demonstrated that you can increase the power output in cyclists by having infrared emitting pads strapped on to their legs and it can also be done on the brain. So that is that show improvement in cognitive functioning after stimulation with with light.
What still has to be established is what is safe and what works best because there seems to be some relationship to to the frequency that the lights switched on and off it’s not it’s not. It seems not to work as well if it’s just shining continuously. So I think there’s a number of of ways in which cognition can be stimulated and I hope that you know that there will be a lot of interest and rapid development in finding truly useful solutions to some of the most difficult problems that we have in dealing with in in mental health.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I think neuro tech will definitely be a developing field and it’s great that you’re in such an amazing position where you can understand all sides of the kind of space to kind of help accelerate that and that helps me conclude and the fact that how do you live a healthy healthy lifestyle. What was your routine like?
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: So we were talking about my environment so I do have two young children and I’m happily married. So I’d say I’m not on my own. So it’s not that I can without shall I say interference and also support my own routine. So what I try to do is to rise early if I can. My best day is if I start with high intensity fairly short cycling workout I use something I subscribed a few years ago to something called cyclical and that’s a program from us which is trainer based but but the but the person who who runs it it’s excellent that’s motivating you. I’ve also with my wife Donna the whole insanity serious. So something like that that is both physically and emotionally stimulating so it’s fun to do.
I would then avoid eating for until about I’d say after lunchtime apart from taking a protein shake so I was taught by by the psychological program that if you do that to too regularly and you don’t take on more protein that you’ll end up wasting your muscles because you burn protein your muscle so energy and you know I could very happily have a bulletproof coffee with some MCP oil and I would then later on in the day. So that’s they start eating again but combining that with the program that I have actually planned activities with time slots and I’m organized. That to me is a fun and productive day and I enjoy also variety.
So that could be you know a few hours you know up to four or five hours of really focused to work on one project. But I then like interacting with people as well and moving physically. So for me I actually enjoy going to my different clinics which are in in different locations and also engaging with people of different ages so elderly people young people all of that to me as is it’s very stimulating. I then enjoy it. I really enjoy having dinner with my family. And most nights we sit around the table by candlelight which is actually amazing to calm things down and stimulate conversation. I actually I I say two to two people ask that I sometimes actually have to ask my family if I can actually go with the date.
We’ve actually talked for a long time now when I know there are lots of families who don’t actually get around to spending time together. But I think that’s incredibly valuable. I watch very little television. I would rather read and I then go to bed as early as I can. Which to me is interesting. It’s basically about the incredible because my natural inclination is to stay up later. So for me it’s its effort to go to bed early. But if I manage to do it then I have a great night. And I’m I’m ready for a good day.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Sounds phenomenal. I mean you have a very balanced lifestyle and it’s great. You touch upon having the connection as well and kind of balancing the five pillars of lifestyle medicine. And it’s been really great talking to you I’ve just learned so much it’s insane the amount of knowledge of acquired through this to this hour or so. It’s kind of accelerated learning and I mean I could go on for another few hours because it’s fascinating the whole kind of subject and the way you’re trained in it you’ve kind of combined the disciplines of neuroscience and psychiatry which gives it that novel a lens of looking at things and you’re someone who seems to kind of look to the future and be continuously learning.
So I wish you good luck with all your ventures and this podcast I think will probably be the most interesting podcast to any listener out there. I think behavioral science I think most people or not all people are fascinated by. So I’m really looking forward to it coming out. And I think you’ve did a lot of value and a lot of pieces knowledge which the lay public or even people who are experts don’t fully know or understand. So I’m very grateful for you to coming on our podcast and hopefully we’ll get you on again to kind of discuss a few more specialized areas that we’ve not been able to discuss today. I’ve tried to ask a range of questions but there was just so much we could go into. So it’s been a pleasure.
Dr. Thomas Dannhauser: Well thank you very much sir for having me and for asking such stimulating questions and of course for you and your team developing Owaves which I think that you’re on the right track. And I look forward to seeing your progress with them. Let me know if I can help in any way. Thank you.
Dr. Haroon Kazem: Thanks for listening to another episode of the body clock podcast by always. If you enjoyed the show please leave us a five star rating on your podcast app. Please also remember to download the free o waves app on the Apple App Store. Please tell your friends and your family. It’s a great tool to help you optimize your life and to effectively plan your day. Thanks as always for listening and I hope you join us again next time.
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