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

Can a frightening experience during pregnancy affect the development of an unborn child’s brain?
Fainting is the sudden and temporary loss of consciousness, and consciousness arises from neural activity in the cerebral cortex. Anything that disrupts neural activity in the cerebral cortex can cause loss of consciousness.
Today the world learned that neuroscientist Roger Y. Tsien passed away on August 24, 2016. His life’s work transformed cellular neuroscience.
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.
New research shows that the Zika virus can infect neural stem cells in the adult brain.
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.
  • BrainFacts/SfN
“He slimed me!” Venkman spits out in disgust, writhing in sticky ectoplasm in a memorable scene from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters.
Research to understand and cure disease is widely appreciated, but there is a larger unmet need to understand the neuroscience of violence.
Dr. Jerald Harris is Professor of Geology and Director of Paleontology at Dixie State College, and an expert in the esoteric science of identifying fossil footprints (ichnology). From these empty impressions in stone, he brings to life the extinct animals that made them millions of years before man first walked the earth.
Long-necked Sauropods, like Brontosaurus, were the largest animals on earth, but their brain, not their leg strength, is what kept them from getting any bigger.
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.
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.