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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).


Why Psychiatry Needs Neuroscience

Originally published on Scientific American’s Blog on April 25, 2017. In April, JAMA Psychiatry published a groundbreaking addition to its lineup: an educational review intended to educate psychiatrists about neuroscience. A group of psychiatrists led by David Ross of Yale University described how and why post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be clinically evaluated from a neuroscience framework. The fact that this editorial...

Scientific American

Do You Suffer from Trump Syndrome?

If you’re displaying erratic behavior that seems irrational to others, part of the explanation could be plain old sleep deprivation Originally published on Scientific American MIND’s Guest Blog on October 17, 2016. “You know, I’m not a big sleeper,” Donald Trump said last November. “I like three hours, four hours, I toss, I turn, I beep-de-beep, I want to find out...


Case Study: When Chronic Pain Leads to a Dangerous Addiction

Originally published in Scientific American MIND on March 1, 2017. Before this, article was originally published with the title “A Painful Descent into Addiction.” It was 4 P.M., and Andrew* had just bought 10 bags of heroin. In his kitchen, he tugged one credit-card-sized bag from the rubber-banded bundle and laid it on the counter with sacramental reverence. Pain shot through...


The Rise of Evidence-Based Psychiatry

Originally published on Scientific American’s Guest Blog on February 28, 2017. On January 2, 1979, Dr. Rafael Osheroff was admitted to Chestnut Lodge, an inpatient psychiatric hospital in Maryland. Osheroff had a bustling nephrology practice. He was married with three children, two from a previous marriage. Everything had been going well except his mood. For the previous two years, Osheroff...


Should We Let Doctors-in-Training Be More Sleep Deprived?

Originally published on Scientific American’s MIND blog on December 16, 2016. As a third year medical student I rotated through a sleep clinic. My job was to administer the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, a tool used to screen patients for sleep disorders. At the end of the day, I took the questionnaire myself and was shocked when I scored worse than...

Scientific American

How Studying Neuroscience Transformed My Brain

Originally published on Scientific American MIND’s Guest Blog on November 16, 2016. Neurobiology was the first class I shuffled into as a dopey freshman undergraduate student. Dr. Brown’s class began at 8AM. I wore that bowling jacket I bought from the Orem Deseret Industries, Utah’s version of Goodwill. I’d spent much of my childhood in small towns: Middle and Junior...

Scientific American

How a Curious Condition Solved a Neuroscientific Mystery

Originally published on Scientific American MIND’s Guest Blog on August 22, 2016.  Véalo en español After prepping for the day’s cases, “Mike Brennan,” a 63-year-old cardiology technician, sat down for his morning coffee and paper. On the front page, he discovered something troubling: he could no longer read. No matter how long he stared at a word, its meaning was...

Scientific American

Psychiatry When You Don’t Speak the Language

Originally published on on June 23, 2016. “It’s been an exciting morning—we got a new patient last night with acute mania,” the resident said with a wry smile. It was my first day in Changsha, China. I was at the Second Xiangya Hospital and frankly, I began to tense up wondering what “exciting” meant. Some words translate poorly. We...

Scientific American

How the Brain Processes Images

No matter where we call home, where we were raised, or what we ate for breakfast, our brains process information pretty much the same as anyone else in the world.  Which makes sense—our genomes are 99.6-99.9% identical, which makes our brains nearly so. Look at a landscape or cityscape and comparable computations occur in your brain as in someone from...


Brains on Trial

A close brush with jury duty led me to ponder what happens when the legal concept of guilt runs up against scientific notions of responsibility and free will (Originally posted on on March 23, 2016) It’s unnerving when someone with no criminal record commits a disturbingly violent crime.  Perhaps he stabs his girlfriend 40 times and dumps her body in the desert. Perhaps...