Research

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 …

For my research publications, see the list below (I’ve added the papers themselves where possible), or try my SCOPUS ID or my ORCID ID.

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.

Interesting Questions

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 …

Sample Publications

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.

PRIZE ESSAYS

My Times Higher Education Supplement prize-winning essays are on the biochemistry of dyslexia (THES for WEB) and on the relationship of imagination and knowledge (THES for WEB II).

MEDIA PIECES

● ‘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.

● Pieces in the Guardian and Daily Mirror following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in December 2011.

● ‘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.

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