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.

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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Marijuana use and violence

Marijuana Use Causes 7-Fold Increased Risk of Violent Behavior

Marijuana use and violence

New research reported in the journal Psychological Medicine, concludes that continued use of cannabis causes violent behavior as a direct result of changes in brain function that are caused by smoking marijuana over many years. Continue reading

Posted in Addiction, Brain Development, by Douglas Fields, Chemicals, Educators, In Society, Neural Network Function, Policymakers, Psychiatric Disorders, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving, Uncategorized
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Sharapova admits using banned drug meldonium

Meldonium, Tennis Star Maria Sharapova’s Performance-enhancing Drug Explained

Tennis star Maria Sharapova has admitted to using the performance-enhancing drug meldonium, which boosts brain and body power and endurance. Here’s how it works.

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Posted in by Douglas Fields, Chemicals, Diet and Exercise, Diseases & Disorders, In Society, Injury, Learning and Memory, Neuroethics, Stress and Anxiety, Uncategorized
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The Taste of Thanksgiving

I took a sip of sugary Coke and was struck by a hideous intense blast of aluminum.  I rushed to the sink and spit out the tainted drink.  Poison!  What’s wrong with this Coke!  I took another tentative sip.  I was slammed again by the overwhelming metallic taste.  I spat out the poison by rapid reflex.  This can of Coke must have been contaminated during manufacturing!  Or, had the likes of the Tylenol Killer switched to soft drinks?  Then I remembered. . .  the taste of Thanksgiving and mountain climbing!

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Posted in Aging, Brain Development, by Douglas Fields, Chemicals, Diet and Exercise, Diseases & Disorders, Mood, Neuroanatomy, Senses and Perception, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving
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Commercial Crab Fishermen, Pillar Point, CA

How the Neurotoxin in Dungeness Crab Causes Brain Damage

The California Fish and Game Commission has banned crab fishing until further notice after detecting high levels of a neurotoxin in Dungeness and rock crabs. The toxin, domoic acid, is produced by certain types of planktonic algae, and it becomes concentrated in tissue of crabs and other marine organisms during plankton blooms. People who consume sufficient quantities of the toxin develop amnesic shellfish poisoning, so named because it kills neurons in a part of the brain that is critical for memory. Here’s how it works.

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Posted in Animal Research, by Douglas Fields, Cell Communication, Chemicals, Diet and Exercise, Diseases & Disorders, Epilepsy, Learning and Memory, Policymakers, Uncategorized
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