all posts by


I was born in Dallas and spent my childhood scampering through the countrysides of central and eastern Texas, with brief escapades in Maryland and Utah. I began medical school in San Antonio, where I met my wife and future psych co-resident Kristin Budde. After my PhD, we moved together to New Haven, where I finished med school. I enjoy writing about neuroscience as a way to think through some of the problems that come up in clinic. I spend a great chunk of my time thinking about and researching how to develop useful biomarkers of brain disease. When I'm not at the hospital or working on research stuff, I'll be fixing up my 1920s New England house. I just recently refinished an old Blue Jay sailboat, which was a great new dad project (sanding is a good activity when you're sleep deprived).

Scientific American

The Chronification of Pain

Published online at Scientific American on December 29, 2017. Earlier this year, I wrote about my patient, Andrew, an engineer who developed a heroin habit. An unfortunate series of joint replacements had left Andrew with terrible pain and, when his medication ran out, he turned to heroin. Months after his surgeries—after his tissue and scars had healed—Andrew remained disabled by a...

Scientific American

The Economics of Paid Parental Leave

Published online at Scientific American on November 29, 2017. In my last piece, “The Neuroscience of Paid Parental Leave,” I discussed how infants’ attachment with their parents is critically involved in brain development. I described a bizarre paradox wherein physician trainee programs don’t provide trainees the types of leave recommended by their own organizations (like the American Academy of Pediatrics). In response,...

Scientific American

The Neuroscience of Paid Parental Leave

Published on Scientific American on October 30, 2017. (BTW: the pic is of me with Everett! Everett was 1.5 wks old and we wandered out to Bishop’s Apple Orchard.) As a new father, I’ve learned that the U.S. ranks at the very bottom of industrialized nations for paid parental leave. Denmark offers a year. Italy offers five months. France offers 16 weeks;...

Scientific American

Scientists, Break Out of That Ivory Tower

Published online at Scientific American on September 28, 2017. “Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.” Rosalind Franklin Recently, The Atlantic senior editor James Hamblin discussed how nearly all major physician organizations have spoken out publicly against the Senate’s Graham–Cassidy health care bill. In fact, throughout this year’s string of health care reform bills these physician organizations have encouraged their members...

Scientific American

New Hope for Children Who Nearly Drown

Conrad was 17 months old when Dave, his grandfather, was babysitting him at their home in Temple, Texas. The two had been playing in the pool and went inside for a break. Dave set to unloading dishes in the dishwasher, unaware that Conrad had snuck back outside. As he finished the dishes, Dave looked out the window and noticed something...

Short Stories

Beyond Numbers

Written in 2013. I loathed numbers.  The absolutism—the nerve! “Why number at all?” say I. No one ever understood something through numbers. Does knowing there are seven thingamabobs tell you anything about the thingamabob itself? The very idea of numbers: who came up with it? Greeks? Arabs? Renaissane-cy men? I wanted to do away with numbers entirely. But frankly, I...

Scientific American

The U.S. Supreme Court Stymies Science

On the last Monday in June I ran into my lab mate, close collaborator and friend, Mehraveh Salehi. We were at the Organization for Human Brain Mapping Conference in Vancouver. Salehi had just learned that the U.S. Supreme Court would reinstate parts of Pres. Donald Trump’s travel ban within 72 hours. Salehi is Iranian, living 6,000 miles from home to...

Scientific American

What Do “Emotion” and “Mood” Actually Mean?

Cecilia (not the patient’s real name) was 15 the first time she tried to kill herself. She sliced into her left wrist with a razor she had hidden away. The initial sting silenced her emotions, but as she went deeper her arm tensed. Her head dizzied with pain. Too much. She screamed out and threw the razor at the wall....



Published in Neurology February 25, 2014 vol. 82 no. 8 e62. Whence sounds the shout of Veritas That all is black or white? If Nature fails to fit this form, Why dogma’s wrong or right? Could the neuron’s all or none Brood artifactual truth? And binarize the networked mind, Render grey scales uncouth? And could behavior’s need to act When...


The Role of Neuroscience in Psychiatry Redux

Originally published on Scientific American’s Blog on April 28, 2017. Neuroskeptic has launched the “mother of all blog posts” against my article, published earlier this week. Neuroskeptic is skeptical that there is a “War Between Neuroscience and Psychiatry.” I fully agree. There is NOT a war and I regret the first title that was published with my piece. I did...