Exploring the Braverman Assessment – What does it tell us about neurotransmitter dominance and deficiency?

This excellent guest post was submitted by our friends at  The Trading Edge . Please check them out if you’re interested in seeing how investing, trading, and nootropics interrelate.

Why do you use nootropics?

Let me start with a basic question, “Why do you supplement with nootropics?”.

Are you using nootropics to alleviate a cognitive disorder?

Are you a student using nootropics to improve your studies and best your classmates?

Are you a corporate warrior trying to get more done and to keep one step ahead of the competition?

Are you an elderly person who supplements to ward off the advances of aging?

Or are you a high performer and just trying to chasing that extra +2-5% edge?

No matter your reason, or where you fall on this spectrum, understanding your baseline is critically important.

The world is changing.  In an era where new smart drugs and nootropics stacks are seemingly coming out weekly, it pains me to see so many people who haphazardly supplement with nootropics by chasing the latest and greatest super pill or silver bullet.

Lost in the mass marketing of nootropics and smart drugs is that we are all unique biologically and that a one size fits all pill isn’t realistic.

The reality is that the road to optimal for me will be different to the road to optimal for you.

To confound things further is that what is optimal is also a moving target.  So what is optimal one today may not be optimal a month from now.

The only way to understand all of this properly is to begin from a place of understanding where you are starting from.

In this article we discuss one popular self assessment known as the Braverman Assessment that can help you assess your unique brain chemistry and possibly identify neurotransmitter dominance and deficiency issues that can be addressed through supplementation.

The goal of doing any pre-supplementation testing is to get a solid baseline.

That is give yourself as much information as possible about where you are coming from before you begin your journey.

Think of it as if you are going to impart on a grand adventure.  Would you just walk out the door or would you spend a bit of time to situate yourself by mapping out your points of interest.

Building a map

So when it comes to neurotransmitter testing there are certainly many options.

Google neurotransmitter testing and you’ll get a wide array of direct tests available to the individual consumer from various labs and of various types.

Tests vary from testing saliva, blood, urine but the the gold standard remains testing cerebrospinal fluid.

Spinal fluid testing is obviously outside the realm of testing for most of us and is usually only performed in a clinical setting.

I myself have recommended neurotransmitter urine testing in the past but there is growing disagreement about how accurate the results are.

Where does that leave us?

For those who don’t want to get down the full neurotransmitter testing route there’s a DIY option.

Enter the Braverman Assessment.

The Braverman Assessment is a self assessment which was created by Dr. Eric Braverman and introduced in his popular book The Edge Effect.

Braverman posits that the brain’s 4 primary neurotransmitters – Dopamine, Acetylcholine, GABA, and Serotonin – play a primary role in the expression of your personality, your health, and your well-being.

Therefore understanding how your neurotransmitters are balanced will help you to make better complimentary choices around diet, supplements, and lifestyle.

Braverman offers a simple metaphor which I found useful in my initial understanding of the brain’s neurotransmitters.  Think of your brain as car.

Dopamine – Gasoline for the car, or power to the brain.

Acetylcholine – Accelerator of the car, or speed of the brain.

GABA – Brakes for the car, or rhythm of the brain.

Serotonin – Alternator for the car, or recharger of the brain.

The Braverman Assessment is a 15-20 minute survey with a series of questions designed to determine map your personality type and identify your neurotransmitter dominance and possible neurotransmitter deficiencies.   You can take the assessment here.

Interpreting the results

The results of the self assessment offers some fascinating personal insights into your personality.

I’ve written in the past on how to interpret the results but so let me summarize how the test results are scored and give you an example of what  kind of actions you can take with those results.

The test results are broken out into 2 categories – Dominant and Deficient.

In each category you will get score for each of the neurotransmitters.

Under the Dominant natures, Braverman defines each neurotransmitter as having the following characteristics:

Dopamine

Thinking intuitive, extroverts, better libido, better memory, increased brain voltage

Choline200px-Choline-skeletal

Intuitive feelers, better libido, better memory, increased brain speed

GABA232px-Gamma-Aminobuttersäure_-_gamma-aminobutyric_acid.svg

Sensing judging, increased calmness, organized and traditional, sleep effect

Serotonin200px-Serotonin-2D-skeletal.svg

Feeling, sensitive perceivers, increased harmony, anti-depressant effect

Dominance and Deficiency

A typical result for a Dominant nature is 35, if your other natures are 15 points below then this suggests a deficient nature.

If one of your Dominant scores is significantly higher than the others then you have identified your dominant personality type.

A typical result for the Deficient test is 0-5 minor, 6-15 moderate, 15 + major deficiency.

Any identified deficiencies with a score of higher than 6 should be addressed through a combination of diet, supplements, and lifestyle.

Personally I find the real value of the assessment is when it is taken before and after a course of supplementation.

Or in the language of performance test and retest.

When I first happened upon the Braverman Assessment I scored the following results –

Dominant

Dopamine – 31

Choline – 16

GABA – 27

Serotonin – 12

Deficient

Dopamine – 1

Choline – 10

GABA – 3

Serotonin – 0

The Dominant nature score indicates that no one type is overly dominant but I did score highest in Dopamine and GABA which is surprisingly reflective of how I personally view myself.

Under the Deficient score what stood out to me was my deficiency in Choline and with a score of 10 indicated possible functional health and cognitive problems.

With these results in hand I took to adding extra choline with Alpha-GPC and Huperzine-A to my nootropics supplementation and to try to increase my intake of choline from natural sources like free range eggs.

After a month of increasing my choline I retook the assessment and found the following scores.

Dominant

Dopamine – 28

Choline – 16

GABA – 25

Serotonin – 13

Deficient

Dopamine – 1

Choline – 6

GABA – 5

Serotonin – 1

Interestingly you’ll note my Dominant scores have changed slightly but they largely remained consistent.

As for my Deficient choline score it decreased from 10 to 6, indicating an improvement in my deficiency from the extra choline supplementation.

I continued on the course of choline supplementation for a few more months and at this time my choline score is now consistently under 4.

In fact I tend to no longer supplement with additional choline (other than through free range eggs which is one of my favorite foods) as I actually find myself experiencing the neck and muscle tension that so many report from supplementing with too much choline.

Conclusion and Takeaways

The Braverman Assessment is a drop dead simple self assessment to ascertain your personality type and dominant/deficient neurotransmitters.

By no means is it a comprehensive as a true neurotransmitter test as there is a large measure of subjectivity in the test results.

However where I think there is a lot of applicable value is helping new nootropics users understand their brain chemistry and secondly, as you saw from the example I gave, through fastidious testing and retesting it allows all of us a simple tool to get into tune with our body’s natural feedback loops.