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Dana G Smith, PhD

Science Writing

 

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. I've written about extreme measures to stop the aging process, electrically shocking the brain to improve memory, what eating the hottest chili pepper on earth does to your body, finding treatments for incurable diseases using CRISPR and stem cells, and diagnosing mental illness with an app. My work has been featured in The Atlantic, The Guardian, Fast Company, Scientific American, Discover, SciencePacific Standard, and KQED, among others. 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 writing, I was a research scientist and completed a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Cambridge. There, I studied drug addiction and binge eating disorder using cognitive testing and functional neuroimaging.

Science Journalism

Scientific American
Brain “Pacemaker” Could Help You Remember Only What You Might Forget
How to Hack an Intelligent Machine
Parents in a Remote Amazon Village Barely Talk to Their Babies—and the Kids Are Fine
Meet the Spiders That Completely Defy What We Know as Jet Lag
Can Synesthesia in Autism Lead to Savantism?

KQED
New Diabetes Monitors Require Fewer Pricks, Less Guessing
Before You Try the Ketogenic Diet, Read This
Capturing the Sound of Depression in the Human Voice
Blood From Young People May Be a Secret to Fighting Aging

The Atlantic
Humans Can Smell 1 Trillion Scents
How a Pregnant Mother's Diet Could Change a Child's Brain
Anxiety About Certain Things Can Be Hereditary
Why Spend a Billion Dollars to Map the Human Brain?

The Guardian
This Is What Candy Crush Does to Your Brain
Spending More Time in the Dark Could Boost Hearing in Old Age
Cannabis and Memory Loss: Dude, Where's my CBD?
Drug Use, Decision-Making and the Blunders of Rob Ford
Are Oreos Really as Addictive as Cocaine?

Discover
Heads Up: Female Soccer Players More Prone to Brain Damage Than Males
Blind Sight: The Next Generation of Sensory Substitution Technology

Vice
This Is What Eating the Hottest Pepper on Earth Will Do to Your Body

Fast Company
The Business of Fasting

Undark
Scientists and Journalists Square Off Over Covering Science and ‘Getting it Right’

Lifehacker
The Truth About Electrical Brain Stimulation

Pacific Standard
Hallucinogens, Starvation, and Magnets: A New Cure for Depression?

Science
Starting Up

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