Richard E. Cytowic, MD, MFA trained in neurology, neuropsychology, and ophthalmology at Duke University, Wake Forest, London’s National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, and George Washington University before founding Capitol Neurology, a private clinic in Washington DC. He is currently Professor of Neurology at GW University.
He is best known for bringing synesthesia back into mainstream science starting in 1980. It is now recognized as a fundamental issue regarding how all brains perceive. Early on, colleagues refused to accept synesthesia as real and warned that pursuing it would “ruin” his career because it was “too weird and New Age” — a typical reaction of orthodoxy to what it doesn’t understand. Today, researchers around the world have written Ph.D. theses, books, and scholarly papers on this fascinating perceptual trait. We currently have a top-to-bottom science from DNA and synapses, to child development, brain imaging, and overt psychology all the way up to art and creativity—all described with colleague David Eagleman in, “Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia.”
The New Jersey native is the son of a physician and artist, and has been a Fellow at the Hambidge Center, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Southampton Writers Conferences. He received a 2015 Artist Fellowship Award from the DC Commission on Humanities and Art. Recently he earned an MFA in Creative Writing from American University, and has appeared in The Washingtonian, The American Interest, and The Southampton Review. His New York Times Magazine cover story, “The Long Ordeal of James Brady” received a 1982 Pulitzer Nomination.
Richard’s work has been the subject of BBC, PBS, and National Geographic documentaries. Media appearances include Good Morning America, All Things Considered, Prime Time, 60 Minutes, and Voice of America.