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.

RayAkyroyd

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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198 million-year-old trackway of fossil footprints of the theropod dinosaur Eubrontes from the Jurassic Period at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm.

Tracking Dinosaur Intelligence: What Fossil Footprints Reveal about the Dinosaur’s Brain

             Displaying the sleuthing skills of Sherlock Holmes, Jerry Harris carefully tracks the footprints to a point where they disintegrate into a muddle of scratches.  He vividly deduces what transpired here. “Came up out of Lake Dixie,” Harris says, pointing to prints leading up the slope.   “Sat down on the side of the berm . . . sat down in such a way that it rested both its hands and feet.” Continue reading

Posted in Animal Research, by Douglas Fields, Evolution, Movement, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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Laser light brings sound to the brain, bypassing the ears.

Listening with Light:  Deaf Can Hear Using Lasers

Cochlear implants have restored hearing to thousands of deaf people, but what about when deafness is caused by a damaged cochlea or nonfunctional auditory nerve?  A possible solution is to bypass the cochlea and stimulate the brain directly.  Scientists are developing a new technology that uses laser light instead of electricity to stimulate brain cells to restore hearing.

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Posted in Animal Research, by Douglas Fields, Neural Network Function, Senses and Perception, Uncategorized
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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gun_violence.jpg

The Neuroscience of Violence

We are on the brink of a new understanding of the neuroscience of violence. Like detectives slipping a fiber optic camera under a door, neuroscientists insert a fiber optic microcamera into the brain of an experimental animal and watch the neural circuits of rage respond during violent behavior. Continue reading

Posted in Addiction, Aging, by Douglas Fields, Childhood, In Society, Neural Network Function, Neuroanatomy, Psychiatric Disorders, Stress and Anxiety
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baby-eaglets

Begging for Food from Mr. President and the First Lady

No, not that President!  Thousands of people are captivated by the live video stream of a pair of bald eagles, named Mr. President and The First Lady, nesting on top of a Tulip Poplar tree at the U.S. National Arboretum.  The reality peek into the life of a pair of breeding eagles, together with new research just published in the journal Nature Communications, show how parents decide which of their hungry chick gets fed.  Begging is important, but sometimes begging is ignored and the parents feed their favorite.  Now we know why . . .

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Posted in Animal Research, Awareness and Attention, by Douglas Fields, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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