I’ve put forward a physiological hypothesis to explain the psychological Opponent Process theory, which I call the Receptor Control Theory. In essence, our pleasure set point or baseline “happiness” is determined by the density and sensitivity of dopamine receptors in the brain (and elsewhere). In this view, obesity and addiction result from a process of “dopamine resistance”, whereby receptor down-regulation impairs satisfaction and drives cravings. Conversely, high receptor density and sensitivity promote satisfaction and dampen cravings.

~ Todd Becker from, overcome-obesity-and-addiction/

Phone use might rise to the level of a literal addiction. Its use can certainly cause dopamine release, which is a strong motivator that plays a role in addiction. I used to think that wasn’t true… That my phone didn’t cause dopamine release… That my phone wasn’t causing manipulation of my motivations… then I tried to put my phone down for an entire day.

And then I set about separating using my phone as a tool—which I can do a lot without it being addictive—from my phone’s use of me as a tool.


What causes allergies and autoimmune disease?

The agent of our immunological misery is the disappearance of something we co-evolved with in a mutually beneficial relationships: microbes and parasites that have lived inside our bodies for millennia.

This new hypothesis is brilliantly summarized in a recent book by Moises Velasquez-Manoff: An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Disease.

~ Todd Becker


The paradox of barefoot running

So the explanation here is clear: Our skeletons, musculature and nervous systems are highly refined and well-coordinated adapative systems which adjust both instanteously and by means of longer term adjustments to in order handle the terrain. These “proprioceptive” adjustments take place virtually beneath the level of consciousness, through the exquisite feedback systems of our body and brain. Try to circumvent these systems, and the protective mechanisms will weaken, exposing us to injury.

~ Todd Becker from,


Boosting your adaptive reserves

Heart rate variability turns out to be a generalized, deep measure of health. That’s because higher HRV is a strong indicator of resilience to stress, while low HRV is a sign of reduced capacity to tolerate stress. And at the deepest level, health is resilience, and diseases in various ways compromise resilience.

~ Todd Becker

This is a REALLY good article on understanding heart rate variability. Turns out, the MORE your heart rate varies — in terms of the variation of the timing from one beat to the next — the more that indicates good cardiovascular health. I found that idea to be counter-intuitive. I would have guessed, wrongly, that the more regular the heart beats were, the better.