Douglas Fields

  • National Institutes of Health

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.

Articles by Douglas Fields

From the black-and-white days of I Love Lucy to the blue-ray lasers of today’s Game of Thrones in dazzling 3D, parents have worried that television might harm their child’s brain development. Now the answer is plain to see.
Yesterday I encountered a colleague outside the elevator. He was profoundly troubled, as are many, anguished by the violence in Baltimore this week.
  • BrainFacts/SfN
The disastrous earthquake in Kathmandu has killed hundreds of people and brought grievous tragedy to thousands. Even among the survivors, the earthquake will leave its mark in the form of altered brain structure.
  • BrainFacts/SfN
Serpents are a storehouse of fascinating neuroscience.
Neuroscientists have long understood that the cerebellum is important for controlling bodily movements, by making them more fluid and coordinated, but researchers have also long appreciated that cerebellum does much more.
  • BrainFacts/SfN
NBC News anchor Brian Williams apologized for his erroneous account of being aboard a helicopter forced to make an emergency landing after being hit by enemy fire while reporting on the Iraq war in 2003.
On January 11, 2015 news swept the globe reporting that scores of people died and 200 were sickened by drinking beer poisoned with crocodile bile in Mozambique.
In the eerie science fiction film, Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson as an alien vixen clothed in human skin, roaming the earth in search of single men for nefarious purposes, a turning point comes when she offers a hooded man on a dark road a ride in her vehicle.
Marijuana use is legal in many states for medical purposes, most of them dealing with neurological conditions (pain, epilepsy, tremor, multiple sclerosis, and many others). From the perspective of a neuroscientist researcher, the situation with respect to “medical marijuana” is absurd.
Typically we are introduced to the nervous system by analogy to an electrical circuit, like a door bell or a telephone line carrying a signal rapidly over long distances to activate a specific process.
  • BrainFacts/SfN
Tom Magliozzi, co-host of NPR’s ‘Car Talk’ dies of Alzheimer’s disease
  • BrainFacts/SfN
Recently scientists have been exploring part of the brain that has been relatively unexplored in learning–white matter, comprising half of the human brain. Here new research is detecting cellular changes during learning that are entirely different from the synaptic changes between neurons in gray matter.