Should Mental Disorders Have Names?

It’s 7:30 A.M. on a frosty Wednesday in December. I’m waiting impatiently in the lobby of the Anlyan Center, a large research building at Yale University. I’m waiting for a man named William Perry.* After two frustrating weeks of phone tag that involved his mother and her actual landline, William is coming in to be … Continue reading Should Mental Disorders Have Names?

Is Chronic Anxiety A Learning Disorder?

Published at Scientific American on October 11, 2018. Lisa Barlow, whose name I have changed to protect her privacy, is at her kitchen table in Washington DC when she realizes that each Sunday, fifteen passenger trains depart for New Haven, CT. She’s a successful copy editor and has a meeting in New Haven early Monday … Continue reading Is Chronic Anxiety A Learning Disorder?

How Freely Should Scientists Share Their Data?

Published online at Scientific American on August 13, 2018.At the beginning graduate school, I decided I wanted to study how epileptic seizures damage the brain. I was in something of a pickle: I wanted to use magnetic resonance imaging (M.R.I.) to study this damage, but I didn’t have access to M.R.I. data of patients with … Continue reading How Freely Should Scientists Share Their Data?

Who Are You Calling Normal?

Published on scientificamerican.com on May 15, 2018. We use the term “normal” so casually and so often that it seems utterly…normal. But in a compelling Trends in Cognitive Sciences paper published earlier this year, Yale University neuroscientists Avram Holmes and Lauren Patrick argue we must move beyond the traditional concept of “normal” because it doesn’t exist—at least, … Continue reading Who Are You Calling Normal?

Can We Measure Delusions?

Published online at Scientific American on March 19, 2018. It was midday when an ambulance brought Rose to the Emergency Department. The triage nurses, with their characteristic knack for brevity, had written “50 year old schizophrenic woman hearing/seeing dead boyfriend.” The medical team had done the standard workup—temperature, blood pressure, EKG, labs to screen for … Continue reading Can We Measure Delusions?

What Makes Friends Vibe?

Published online at scientificamerican.com on February 20, 2018. Think about your friends—the people you spend a lot of time with, see movies with, those people you'd text to grab a drink or dinner after a long week. Now think back to why you first became friends and ask yourself: was it because you like them? Or because you are like … Continue reading What Makes Friends Vibe?

Why Don’t Babies Smile from Birth?

Published online at scientificamerican.com on February 6, 2018. When my son was born a few months ago, he quickly established himself as the tyrant of  our household, one that ruled with a singular phonetic ultimatum (“Oooo—whaaah”), tiny iron fists clutched in fury, and a face that roiled like the churning sea. His placid silence instantly … Continue reading Why Don’t Babies Smile from Birth?

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 … Continue reading The Chronification of Pain

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 … Continue reading The Economics of Paid Parental Leave