I’m now a science writer; I trained as a neuroscientist. I have a B.A. and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford and a research M.Sc. from the University of Stirling. My first degree was in physiology and philosophy. This was a combination of the PPP course (physiology, psychology, philosophy) so rare and problematic that, to judge by the exam list, I was the only one in my year-group fool enough to attempt it. If you did that course, do get in touch; I have never yet met anyone else who did. I think Oxford has now scrapped the PPP course. I was told (and like to believe!) that this was because it was too difficult …
The M.Sc. at Stirling was ostensibly in psychology. It was actually neuropharmacology, but there wasn’t a neuroscience department at Stirling at the time.
The D.Phil. was in the computational neuroscience of eye movements. It included both a simple computer model and psychophysical experiments using a scleral eye coil to measure eye movements in response to carefully controlled visual stimuli (in collaboration with Roland Baddeley).
After that I worked as a postdoc on the neurobiological basis – neuroscience, immunology, biochemistry and epidemiology – of developmental dyslexia. Among other things, my research suggested negative associations between dyslexia and having a family history of high blood pressure and cancer.
I proposed a theoretical model of neuroinflammation involving platelet-activating factor to explain these findings and other puzzling observations, including the apparently beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids on neurodevelopmental disorders. I also did theoretical work in cognitive neuroscience, e.g. on consciousness.
I have many interests – interdisciplinary approaches are vital to studying brains – but they all meet at the intersection of three huge questions:
● how do human brains work?
● how are people’s behaviour and identities affected by their beliefs?
● how will neuroscience affect society?
That lot should keep me going for a while, don’t you think? That and the housework …
BOOKS and CHAPTERS
● Taylor, K. (2016), The Fragile Brain: the strange, hopeful science of dementia. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
● Taylor, K. (2012), The Brain Supremacy: notes from the frontiers of neuroscience. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
● Taylor, K. (2009), Cruelty: human evil and the human brain. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
● Taylor, K. (2006), “On brainwashing”, in The Barbarization of Warfare, ed. G. Kassimeris; New York University Press.
● Taylor, K. (2004, 2006, 2016), Brainwashing: the science of thought control. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
● Taylor, K.E. (2003). The possible role of abnormal platelet-activating factor metabolism in psychiatric disorders. Phospholipid Spectrum Disorders in Psychiatry and Neurology. 2nd ed: Marius Press.
● ‘Masters of Mind Control’, BBC Focus magazine, issue 254, May 2013.
● A piece about disgust and morality for the Guardian.
● “So, do you know who’s pulling your strings?“, Times Higher Education Supplement, 26 November 2004.
● A Guardian essay on brainwashing and terrorism.
● ‘Cruel intentions‘, RSA Journal, March 2012.
SAMPLE ACADEMIC PUBLICATIONS
● Taylor, K.E. and Wright, G. (2016), A computational approach to the poetry of Katherine Philips’, Women’s Writing, forthcoming 2017. Publisher website.
● Taylor, K.E. (2008), Review of Women as Weapons of War, by Kelly Oliver. Critical Studies in Terrorism, 1, 3.
● Taylor, K.E. (2007), Disgust is a factor in extreme prejudice, British Journal of Social Psychology, 46(3), 597-617. PDF here.
● Taylor, K.E. (2006), Intergroup atrocities in war: a neuroscientific perspective, Medicine, Conflict and Survival, 22, 230-44. PDF here.
● Taylor, K.E. (2004). Familial cancer and developmental dyslexia: an observational pilot study, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 46(2), 119-27. PDF here.
● Francks, C., Fisher, S.E., Marlow, A.J., MacPhie, I.L., Taylor, K.E., Richardson, A.J., Stein, J.F. and Monaco, A.P. (2003), Familial and genetic effects on motor coordination, laterality, and reading-related cognition, American Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 1970-7.
● Taylor, K.E. and Walter, J. (2003), Occupation choices of adults with and without symptoms of dyslexia, Dyslexia, 9(3), 177-85. PDF here.
● Taylor, K.E. and Stein, J.F. (2002). Dyslexia and familial high blood pressure: an observational pilot study, Archives of Disease in Childhood, 86(1), 30-3. PDF here.
● Taylor, K.E., Richardson, A.J. and Stein, J.F. (2001). Could platelet-activating factor play a role in developmental dyslexia?, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 64(3), 173-80. PDF here.
● Taylor, K.E. (2001). Applying continuous modelling to consciousness, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, 2, 45-60.
● Taylor, K.E., Higgins, C.J., Calvin, C.M., Hall, J.A., Easton, T., McDaid, A.M. and Richardson, A.J. (2000). Dyslexia in adults is associated with clinical signs of fatty acid deficiency, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 63(1/2), 75-8. PDF here.
● Taylor, K.E. and Richardson, A. J. (2000). Visual function, fatty acids and dyslexia, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids, 63(1), 89-93. PDF here.