Dr. Fields' long-standing interest is in nervous system plasticity. He is an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow and founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Neuron Glia Biology. His laboratory is exploring molecular mechanisms that regulate the structure and function of the nervous system in response to neural impulse activity during development and in relation to learning and memory, and the interactions between neurons and glia. The primary focus of research in the lab is on how neural activity influences myelination to promote optimal timing of impulse transmission through neural circuits. He is author of three neuroscience books for the general audience, Electric Brain, about brainwaves, BCI, and brain stimulation; Why We Snap, on the neuroscience of aggression, and The Other Brain, about glia. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1975, an M.A. degree in 1979 at San Jose State University, and a Ph.D. degree from the University of California, San Diego, working jointly in the Medical School and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University, Yale University, and the NIH before becoming Head of the Neurocytology and Physiology Unit, NICHD in 1994. He became Chief of the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section, NICHD in 2001. PhD mentor for Beth Stevens, NACS graduate.
Our research concerns molecular and cellular mechanisms by which functional activity in the brain regulates development of the nervous system during late stages of fetal development and early postnatal life. Areas of study include interactions between neurons and glia; the mechanisms of learning and memory; effects of neural impulses on cell proliferation, differentiation, neurite outgrowth, synaptogenesis, synapse plasticity, and myelination; and the regulation of gene expression in neurons and glia by specific patterns of neural impulses.