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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.

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...

Scientific American

Getting Past the “Shotgun” Approach to Treating Mental Illness

This article was originally published on the Scientific American website on March 10, 2016. Alexia had been in-and-out of intensive psychiatric therapy for nearly two decades by the time we met. She suffered from bipolar disorder, which meant that she cycled between explosions of boundless energy and black holes of suicidal despair. Despair brought her to our unit. Her long...

Short Stories

Bacon Fire

Published on on May 28, 2014. I want to wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep… 5:00AM. I lie there and listen to Frankie belt it, New York, New York. These little town blues, I mumble, hitting the alarm. The blurry world comes into focus. I shuffle across the chilly floor and where my running shoes are waiting....

Short Stories

A Study of Brains

Published on on August 1, 2016. “Yeah, a ping—it’s like an electronic echo.” Drew explained, as his fingers weaved gracefully through his Gatsbian hair. “The ping tests the connection between the brain and computer: when I ping a brain and it pings back, I know the connection is good—cool, huh?” Becca smiled politely as Drew swiped his ID card....