Dana G Smith, PhD



I write about the fascinating, bizarre, and exciting science that comes fresh out of the lab every day. 

Me, wearing a brain on my brain.

Me, wearing a brain on my brain.

As a freelance writer, I focus on stories relating to health and science—the weirder the better—with a special interest in the brain. My work has been featured in The Atlantic, The Guardian, Fast Company, Scientific American, Discover, SciencePacific Standard, and KQED. I got my start writing through my blog, Brain Study, and the Nature Education blog Mind Read.

I also help universities and research organizations tell their stories of scientific discovery, the realities of lab life, and the personalities who make the magic happen. For several years, I worked as the communications and media relations specialist at the Gladstone Institutes, translating and promoting basic life science research to the public.

Before transitioning to a career in science communication, I was a research scientist and completed a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Cambridge. There, I studied reward and impulse control disorders—such as drug addiction and binge eating disorder—using cognitive testing and functional neuroimaging.

Academic Publications

Using a drug-word Stroop task to differentiate recreational from dependent drug use
DG Smith, KD Ersche - CNS Spectrums, 2014

Overlapping decline in orbitofrontal gray matter volume related to cocaine use and body mass index
DG Smith, PS Jones, GB Williams, ET Bullmore, TW Robbins, KD Ersche - Addiction Biology, 2014

Enhanced orbitofrontal cortex activation and lack of attentional bias to cocaine cues in recreational stimulant users
DG Smith, PS Jones, ET Bullmore, TW Robbins, KD Ersche - Biological Psychiatry, 2014

Cognitive control dysfunction and abnormal frontal cortex activation in stimulant dependent individuals and their biological siblings
DG Smith, PS Jones, ET Bullmore, TW Robbins, KD Ersche - Translational Psychiatry, 2013

The neurobiological underpinnings of obesity and binge eating: A rationale for adopting the food addiction model
DG Smith and TW Robbins - Biological Psychiatry, 2013

Decision-making in children and adolescents: Impaired Iowa Gambling Task performance in early adolescence
DG Smith, L Xiao, A Bechara - Developmental Psychology, 2012