Brain Health,
Know Your Neurotransmitters,

#070: Know Your Neurotransmitters: GABA

April 03, 2015

This week we kick off the first episode in our “Know Your Neurotransmitters” series.   Jesse is joined by Dr. Matthew Broome – Senior Clinical Research Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford – to talk about the neurotransmitter GABA.  Dr. Broome explains how GABA (or gamma-Aminobutyric acid for those who love a good tongue-twister) works, where it comes from, and how it affects our brains and bodies.

We’ll also learn about the dangers of alcohol withdrawal, how trying to remember things could actually make us more forgetful, and the strange-but-true symptoms of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.

Show Notes
  • 00:00:32

    Our first "Know Your Neurotransmitters" episode

  • 00:01:53

    This Week in Neuroscience: The Forgetful Side Effect of Frequent Recall

  • 00:04:11

    iTunes review thank-you

  • 00:05:01

    Listener suggestions, introductions and keto-commiseration

  • 00:05:32

    What is GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid)?

  • 00:06:17

    Introduction to Dr. Matthew Broome

  • 00:07:27

    Some examples of how GABA is useful within the brain

  • 00:08:25

    GABA and memory formation

  • 00:10:08

    What are the effects of having too much or too little GABA in the brain?

  • 00:11:45

    Where does GABA come from, and what are the effects of consumption, and withdrawal, of gabaergic substances?

  • 00:14:16

    GABA in the rest of the body

  • 00:15:06

    GABA-A and GABA-B: What's the difference?

  • 00:15:59

    The effects of GABA in children versus adults

  • 00:16:54

    Dr. Broome's current research planning: GABA's role in psychotic illness and functional activity

  • 00:20:57

    Ruthless Listener-Retention Gimmick: Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

  • 00:23:20

    A special birthday shout-out

  • 00:23:44

    Sign up for our mailing list!


  1. Brian Crain says:

    I was a bit surprised the phenibut (phenyl-γ-aminobutyric acid) was not discussed. It is a supplement/pharmaceutical, GABA derivative and does cross the blood brain barrier. I’m not a fan personally as I feel it makes me drowsy and gives headaches, but it’s quite widely used in the nootropic community.

    1. Jesse Lawler says:

      Hey there Brian! We’re actually working to get a Phenibut-focused episode together. Might have been an oversight to leave it out of the GABA episode, but we were trying to keep the “Know Your Neurotransmitters” series a bit more general… Anyway, hopefully we’ll make it up to you quite soon.

  2. ben says:

    Isn’t there some research that suggests there is a small area of the brain, specifically the Paraventricular Nucleus of the Hypothalamus, that’s not protected by endothelial blood-brain barrier sheath? Perhaps taking GABA is able to exploit this?

  3. Nisar says:

    Hey Jesse,

    I want to thank you for this episode. I took the braverman test & turns out I am GABA deficient. Ordered passion flower & low dose melatonin. My sleep & overall energy has noticeably improved.

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