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. I've written about extreme measures to stop the aging process, electrically shocking the brain to improve memory, 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 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