From what I have gathered of low latent inhibition, it is an extreme increased level of dopamine in the brain.. dopamine is a neurotransmitter and hormone.

Increasing it has many advantages and a few nasty disadvantages.

While improving concentration, mood, energy, and libido for starters, too much can cause side effects such as addiction and a host of mental disorders. (schizophrenia and bipolar to name two)

I'm looking for those who might have more knowledge of the subject than I do: there is a lot of controversy over the internet and half of it can't be believed. So, for the question part:

1. Is increased dopamine levels the source (or at least main source) of LLI?

2.Is Dopamine increased more through direct supplements such as DHA which supposedly affect Dopamine levels directly, or supplements such as L-Dopa which claim to affect the precursors?

I've done my own research and am still looking for answers to the benefits, risks, and induction of such to lower latentcy... just looking for others' knowledge and/or experiences.

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    $\begingroup$ Related: cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/772/… $\endgroup$
    – BenCole
    Apr 4, 2014 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ You mentioned that you find the level of engagement we're giving your question surprising - it's relatively uncommon for people to engage beyond the first question and clarifying comments (if even that). $\endgroup$
    – BenCole
    Apr 8, 2014 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ That said, please, be very careful (even if you think you are, please please please). Dopamine is playing with fire, and not just with the brain - I'm sure you've seen the problems with l-DOPA, but there's a hidden danger: be very careful of your kidney(s). They do a lot of work behind the scenes, and too much protein especially can really hit them hard (as well as pretty much any other drug, though some are more damaging/dangerous than others). $\endgroup$
    – BenCole
    Apr 8, 2014 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ And lastly, while I'm sure many of us would enjoy sitting down and talk with you more about this, it sounds like you would be more at home either in the Chat, or on a discussion-based website community (such as Reddit, etc), rather than here - we try to stick with the specific question/answer format. So feel free to bring any questions you have to us, but the ongoing updates aren't really our style, sorry. $\endgroup$
    – BenCole
    Apr 8, 2014 at 13:28

2 Answers 2


Low latent inhibition is not an ideal state...Wikipedia lists several potential problems including attentional and emotional dysregulation, psychosis, and negative emotionality. Wikipedia also suggests that intelligence may moderate effects on well-being, such that more highly intelligent people could cope with stronger stimulation more effectively, and possibly enhance creativity (Carson, Peterson, & Higgins, 2003).

As for dopamine, there's a lot to read and thoroughly reconsider before going ahead with any attempt to alter it. The dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia is one particularly noteworthy concern with heightened dopamine levels; nausea is another risk, and addiction to the means of alteration is another. I don't know that this last risk is any less serious with legal drugs, or even naturally rewarding behaviors.

That being said, some regulated drugs are prescribed for disorders of low dopaminergic activity, including Parkinson's and (to some extent) attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, including $_\mathbf L$-DOPA and methylphenidate. I link here to the overdose sections to emphasize that using them is not a good idea without a strong recommendation from a doctor in support and supervision of medicinal use. Even those with severe disorders who basically need these medications may suffer complications, so the likelihood of normally functioning individuals benefitting safely from (ab)use of these drugs is rather low at best.

BTW, @ChuckSherrington's comment is wisely made, and I want to emphasize also that I'm only mentioning these drugs because they exist and are sometimes prescribed for disorders that sometimes result from harmfully low dopamine levels. These medications should NOT be used by normally functioning individuals. They have several undesirable side effects, and could be particularly dangerous if used to deliberately elevate dopamine receptor activity above normal. Beside that, many if not most are regulated substances, and illegal to use without a prescription.

This is not a place to look for people who have experimented with dopaminergic drugs on normally functioning individuals: such experimentation is dangerous and unethical, especially if conducted in an uncontrolled manner without professional medical support on hand. Personal use of a drug like $_\rm L$-DOPA or methylphenidate without a prescription is not experimentation in a scientific sense, but is abuse in a legal sense.

Some properly ethical and cautious research has investigated the effects of various dopaminergic drugs on normal populations, and results seem mixed at best, and quite scary at worst. As a near-worst case, consider cocaine: it acts on much more than dopamine, and tends to dysregulate it, not just temporarily block its reuptake. These aspects make it a very messy way of manipulating dopamine, and leads to some of its well-known dangers. This may be an extreme example, but one shouldn't assume so; any psychoactive drug has some potential to upset homeostasis in a lasting way and in more ways than one intends.

Methylphenidate might be a near-best case pharmacodynamically, but it too affects more than just dopamine, and has its share of dangers, as I mentioned above. What makes it noteworthy is the debate surrounding it as a potential nootropic vs. drug of abuse. Here's an interesting excerpt from Wikipedia:

Methylphenidate is sometimes used by students to enhance their mental abilities, improving their concentration and helping them to study. Professor John Harris, an expert in bioethics, has said that it would be unethical to stop healthy people taking the drug. He also argues that it would be "not rational" and against human enhancement to not use the drug to improve people's cognitive abilities.[97] Professor Anjan Chatterjee however has warned that there is a high potential for abuse and may cause serious adverse effects on the heart, meaning that only people with an illness should take the drug. In the British Medical Journal he wrote that it was premature to endorse the use of Ritalin in this way as the effects of the drug on healthy people have not been studied.[98][99] Professor Barbara Sahakian has argued that the use of Ritalin in this way may give students an unfair advantage in examinations and that as a result universities may want to discuss making students give urine samples to be tested for the drug.[100][Emphasis added.]

Evidently there are cases to be made for both perspectives on methylphenidate, and a variety of ramifications to consider. More research would be helpful, especially for the sake of isolating important mechanisms of action and reducing undesirable side effects. Until that much is done successfully, methylphenidate seems too controversial to recommend at best, and downright dangerous to recommend at worst. Furthermore, being a Schedule II drug in USA, it is illegal to possess or distribute without prescription.

Another notable prospect of sorts (though still Schedule II) is buproprion. From Wikipedia:

The primary pharmacological action of the drug is as a mild dopamine reuptake inhibitor and also a much weaker norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor as well as a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist...

According to the US government classification of psychiatric medications, bupropion is "non-abusable".[93] In animal studies, squirrel monkeys and rats could be induced to self-administer bupropion, which is often taken as a sign of addiction potential; however, there are significant interspecies differences in bupropion metabolism.[54] There have been a number of anecdotal and case-study reports of bupropion abuse, but the bulk of evidence indicates that the subjective effects of bupropion are markedly different from those of addictive stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamine.[94] However bupropion is reported to be abused in Canada.[95]

One look at Tryon and Logan (2013) is more than enough to tell that the US government is wrong yet again on drug abuse; this one can definitely be abused in a really unsettling way (seriously, view at your own risk; it's got some gruesome imagery). However, to be fair, I can't verify that the cited source for the US government [93] says "non-abusable"; the link only leads to a table where bupropion is listed under Low Abuse Potential...but this seems pretty outdated in light of the news from Canada, unfortunately. Granted, this is primarily a problem with intravenous administration, which is not intended...but clearly the potential exists, and is bad enough to outweigh any merits of deregulation I could imagine. Again, further demonstration of how hazardous this psychopharmacological minefield of dopaminergic drugs really is...The only safe advice is to steer clear – barring any exigent need and prescription for personal medical use, of course – but that doesn't apply here.

- Carson, S. H., Peterson, J. B., & Higgins, D. M. (2003). Decreased latent inhibition is associated with increased creative achievement in high-functioning individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(3), 499–506. Retrieved from ResearchGate.

54. Dwoskin, L. P., Rauhut, A. S., King‐Pospisil, K. A., & Bardo, M. T. (2006). Review of the pharmacology and clinical profile of bupropion, an antidepressant and tobacco use cessation agent. CNS Drug Reviews, 12(3–4), 178–207.
93. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2000). Abuse potential of common psychiatric medications. In Substance abuse treatment for persons with HIV/AIDS (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 37, pp. 83–84). Rockville, USA: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64916/table/A67504/.
94. Lile, J. A., & Nader, M. A. (2003). The abuse liability and therapeutic potential of drugs evaluated for cocaine addiction as predicted by animal models. Current Neuropharmacology, 1(1), 21–46.
95. Tryon, J., & Logan, N. (2013, September 18). Antidepressant Wellbutrin becomes ‘poor man’s cocaine’ on Toronto streets. Global News: Health. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/846576/antidepressant-wellbutrin-becomes-poor-mans-cocaine-on-toronto-streets/.
97. Harris, J. (2009). Is it acceptable for people to take methylphenidate to enhance performance? Yes. British Medical Journal, 28(8), b1955. Retrieved from http://livingtomorrow.livejournal.com/59100.html.
98. Chatterjee, A. (2009). Is it acceptable for people to take methylphenidate to enhance performance? No. British Medical Journal, 338, b1956. Retrieved from http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1079&context=neuroethics_pubs&sei-redir=1.
99. BBC News. (2009, June 19). Ritalin backed as brain-booster. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8106957.stm.
100. Davies, C. (2010, February 21). Universities told to consider dope tests as student use of 'smart drugs' soars. The Observer: Education: Student Health. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/feb/21/smart-drugs-students-universities.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm a bit uncomfortable with the last paragraph, but I'm not able to come up with a rewording for it. Even with the warning pages, it's a bit prescriptive. $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2014 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ i assure you that i am aware of the ups and downs of LLI... perhaps asking on a forum like this was not the best place to find someone who has already experimented... :/ $\endgroup$
    – awalley
    Apr 5, 2014 at 0:06
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @Chuck. This definitely needed further elaboration. My only prescription is, "Follow your doctor's instructions if you have any, and if not, don't mess with your dopamine medically. There is lethal potential across the board." $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2014 at 12:23
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    $\begingroup$ There are a lot more (non-typical) stimulants that may have an effect as well: (ar)modafinil, xanthine-derivatives, ampakines, phenyl-derivatives, and more. The buck doesn't stop at classic CNS stimulants! $\endgroup$
    – BenCole
    Apr 5, 2014 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, caffeine even. There are definitely tons more than I've reviewed here, and I wouldn't want to try to cover more without a better idea of where to start. Do you see any more promising alternatives? I suppose modafinil could be better, but the state of knowledge there reminds me a bit of how bupropion is described in sources naive to the emerging abuse issue there. $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2014 at 21:34

I have to agree with @NickStauner - it sounds like you (as most people do; television is a culprit here) have a relatively rose-tinted view of people with a lower latent inhibition.

This is not an answer, this is an anecdote.

First off, a person's 'level of latent inhibition' will fluctuate. I have low latent inhibition (if you read this - yep, that's a description of me), but it changes from day to day.

On good days, great days, having this is one of the best blessings anyone could have (in my opinion, of course). I can attend to - entirely literally and without exaggeration - everything in my visual/aural sensory field (and if it's an awesome day, all at the same time). I'm aware of everything around me, down to the insects within a few feet. My brain registers and tracks everything and nothing escapes my senses.

On bad days, this is a curse. Yes, it's cliched, but it's true. On bad days, I'm not tracking anything... but I am registering it. Everything. I know people with ADD/ADHD, and on bad days I'm almost exactly like them. And the worst days, it happens over and over and over again. Imagine driving, except that you don't just see the things around you - you see the things around you again, and again, and again, and again. It's not that you don't remember, it's just that your brain temporarily says, "hey, wait, what's that, that's new...oh wait, no, it's not.... oh hey!"

Most days are somewhere in between. Thankfully, there's a lot I can do - sleeping properly, eating properly, and exercise have no substitutes!

Now for more anecdotal stuff:
I've found that inducing a 'flow' state improves my ability to handle this sensory deluge. Music, and certain activities (there are a number of questions on CogSci.SE about the flow state) in particular. Trance-inducing activities and meditations also help. Certain binaural beats also help.

This, again, isn't an answer. I don't know how to induce this state in others. Drugs...don't really work, as far as I can tell - at least not the ones around currently. Stimulants have too many side effects, or are too strong, or cause too strong of focus, or in general overshoot their target most of the time. Classic stimulants, such as ADHD drugs, definitely don't induce this state.

I will say this: by and far, if you want it, then do it:

  • Pay attention to everything. Make yourself pay attention to everything. Register everything in your sensory fields. As soon as you register something, register something else. If something moves, register it. If something makes a sound, isolate, orientate to, and register it.
  • Then make yourself question everything - why is anything the way it is? This is not about actually answering, but about making your brain work differently. Do this constantly, all the time, it's all that exists to you: registering and analyzing everything. Verify everything afterwards, but go as far as you can, then go as fast as you can. Be correct before you're fast (this is reallllly important. If you're fast but incorrect, you start to believe in supernatural events. Sounds ridiculous, but ... well, anecdotally true, at least).
  • Push yourself to do it faster, faster, faster.

Now here's the problem - you're trying to do this from the top-down. There are things you won't be able to induce, things that may, or may not, eventually appear on their own:

  • Automatically orientating on new sensory stimuli. As mentioned, if something moves, I know it's there; no exceptions. A spider could move in the very corner of my peripheral vision, and I'd have registered it. That said, I don't necessarily know what moved, but I know that something moved. When I'm tired though, there are a lot of false positives. If I go for long enough with little enough sleep, I'll start to see shadows move. This is NOT fun.

  • Automatically knowing something is different. This isn't conscious, nor is it specific. If you've gotten new glasses, or a new haircut, or changed something else, I'll know something is different (again, most days). But it might take me a bit to figure out what the difference is. Chances are, I'll be looking at you funny while trying to figure it out.

  • Reading non-physical 'energies' around me. This one is...so hard to grasp and explain. I don't fully understand it, so explaining it is difficult. It's a 'soft focus' where I'm not truly paying attention to any one thing. Instead, I'm watching (again) everything at the same time. If I'm in a room with people, I know when things will happen before they do. I know if people are bored, or angry, happy, or jealous. I know if people are hiding something, or if they need to share. I can read the stress in your voice and I can know from the way that you're holding yourself that you slept poorly last night. Some of this is the LLI, but there's another half of it:

  • Read everything. Everything. Nothing is possible if you don't understand how it all fits together. Read about people especially, and how people work - individually, in isolation, in groups, as followers, as leaders, and when they're interacting with others. Read about physics to understand exactly how to throw the skeeball (with the proper 'soft focus'/'not trying') to get the 100.

  • (Learn to) Juggle. I don't have a link with me, but juggling improves your brain in many different ways.

  • And lastly, always always always (x 1000) do the Big 3: eat properly, sleep properly, and exercise properly.

Now, given all that - THIS IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE ANSWER, SO DON'T ACCEPT IT (if you do, I'll make it CW and give it away anyway). I have no sources, no citations, and no backup. I have nothing but anecdotal evidence, and this is the internet. You shouldn't trust me even if I did - almost anything can be skewed to support anything else.

If you want LLI, start to figure everything out for yourself!

  • $\begingroup$ perhaps an answer and not an explanation would have been more appropriate. Thank you anyway for taking the time to respond... having lived with my husband for six years i am very aware of the good and the bad.. for you to assume anything about my view is "rose tinted" is very insulting. I've seen the violence, detachment, and abnormal characteristics. I have also seen the creativity and pure genius of it. I have wanted for years to crawl inside his mind and see what makes him tick.. $\endgroup$
    – awalley
    Apr 5, 2014 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ Fascinating account of your perspective; thank you for sharing it. No harm in offering an anecdote as such, especially one with rich insights based on direct, personal experience. I agree it's not a definitive answer, but I still find it quite useful as a sort of case study. No pathologizing implications intended BTW; in fact, I think case study is somewhat underutilized as a method for researching "normal" personality and cognition in idiographic depth too. $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2014 at 8:15
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    $\begingroup$ @awalley - I'm very sorry if I came off as antagonistic - this is a slightly sore point for me, as I've known many people who've only seen the show Prison Break, and so assume that LLI is this great, awesome-all-the-time, thing. The wording of your question poked that button, and for that I'm very sorry. I absolutely understand the impulse to get inside another person's head - I feel this myself on a daily basis; people are so interesting! I hope you can forgive this random Internet stranger... $\endgroup$
    – BenCole
    Apr 5, 2014 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ That said, there is more to my answer than simply describing symptoms. It's a bit more mixed in there than I'd intended, but as best as I can I tried to give out a couple ideas - I have no idea if they'll work for you, but maybe give them a try? Up to you, but I wish you luck with your search, and I wish I could help more! $\endgroup$
    – BenCole
    Apr 5, 2014 at 16:56

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