Douglas Fields

About Douglas Fields

R. Douglas Fields is Chief of the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section at the National Institutes of Health, NICHD, in Bethesda, Maryland, and author of the new book about sudden anger and aggression “Why We Snap,” published by Dutton, and a popular book about glia “The Other Brain” published by Simon and Schuster. Dr. Fields is a developmental neurobiologist with a long-standing interest in brain development and plasticity, neuron-glia interactions, and the cellular mechanism of memory. He received degrees from UC Berkeley, San Jose State University, and UC San Diego. After postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford and Yale Universities he joined the NIH in 1987. Dr. Fields also enjoys writing about neuroscience for the general public. In addition to serving on editorial boards of several neuroscience journals, he serves as scientific advisor for Odyssey and Scientific American Mind magazines. He has written for Outside Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Scientific American and Scientific American Mind, and he publishes regularly for The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and Scientific American on-line. Outside the lab he enjoys building guitars and rock climbing.

The opinions stated in the blog are the personal opinion of the author and not those of the federal government.


Olympic Gold for Brainwave Performance

Whether or not a competitor stands on the podium wearing an Olympic metal can depend on a thousandth of a second difference in finishing time.  Greater physical performance may not be what separate winners from losers when the margin is that close.  Instead, it can be something beyond the competitor’s will–brainwaves.

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Posted in by Douglas Fields, Movement, Neural Network Function, Press, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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Alex Honnold climbing without a rope

No Fear

In an interesting article in the magazine Nautilus, J.B. MacKinnon, reports that a brain scan (fMRI) of free solo climber, Alex Honnold’s brain explains why he is so willing to risk his life to climb rocks without a rope.  The fear circuitry in his brain is dysfunctional.

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Posted in Awareness and Attention, by Douglas Fields, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy, Neuroethics, Psychiatric Disorders, Senses and Perception, Stress and Anxiety
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Ectoplasm–Ghostbusters to spooky twitching nerves

“He slimed me!”  Venkman spits out in disgust, writhing in sticky ectoplasm in a memorable scene from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters.

Ectoplasm, the mysterious stuff of the supernatural world, also makes nerve axons twitch every time they fire, but almost nobody talks about it.

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Posted in by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication
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