Richard Cytowic

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Richard E. Cytowic
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Born (1952-12-16) December 16, 1952 (age 63)
Trenton, New Jersey, U.S.
Residence Washington, D.C.
Nationality American
Fields Neuroscience
Institutions George Washington University Medical Center
Alma mater Duke University, Wake Forest
Known for Synesthesia, Neuropsychology
Influences Paul D. MacLean, Norman Geschwind

Richard E. Cytowic is an American neurologist and author [1] who rekindled interest in studying synesthesia [2][3][4][5] in the 1980s. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his New York Times Magazine cover story[6] about James Brady, the Presidential Press Secretary shot in the brain during the assassination attempt on President Reagan. Cytowic’s writing ranges from textbooks[7] and music reviews, to his Metro Weekly "Love Doctor" essays[8] and brief medical biographies of Anton Chekhov[9] and Maurice Ravel.[10] His work is the subject of several documentaries.[11]

In Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks writes:

In the 1980, Richard Cytowic made the first neurophysiological studies of synesthetic subjects... In 1989, he published a pioneering text, Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses, and this was followed by a popular exploration of the subject in 1993, The Man Who Tasted Shapes. Current techniques of functional brain imaging now give unequivocal evidence for the simultaneous activation or coactivation of two or more sensory areas of the cerebral cortex in synesthetes, just as Cytowic’s work predicted.[12]

Cytowic is a Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at George Washington University Medical Center, a Mentor at the Point Foundation, and a member of the Advisory Board for Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.


Cytowic was born on December 16, 1952 in Trenton, New Jersey to a physician father and artist mother, and grew up with an extended family of scientists and artists. His mother is ESPN's "Super Nana Marge", Tim Tebow's No. 1 fan.[13] As a child, Cytowic liked taking things apart and putting them back together to figure out how they worked.

He attended Hun School of Princeton (class of 1970),[14] graduated cum laude from Duke University, and received his M.D. from Wake Forest's Bowman Gray School of Medicine. He studied further at London's Queen Square (Institute of Neurology), and George Washington University Medical Center before founding a private clinic, Capitol Neurology.

Retired from clinical practice, Cytowic now mentors medical students at George Washington, writes and lectures. While in North Carolina, he served as music critic for the Winston-Salem Journal. He is enrolled in the Masters of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing in the College of Arts and Sciences at American University.[15]


Reviews and essays
  • Selected book reviews available here
  • Selected Love Doctor essays available here.
  • Chekhov and Ravel articles available here

Artistic fellowships[edit]



  1. ^
  2. ^ Cytowic, RE (2009) Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia. (Co-authored with David Eagleman) Cambridge: MIT Press ISBN 978-0-262-01279-9
  3. ^ Cytowic, RE (2003) The Man Who Tasted Shapes Cambridge: MIT Press ISBN 978-0-262-53255-6
  4. ^ Cytowic, RE (2002).Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses (2nd ed). Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-03296-4 (1st ed 1989, Springer-Verlag.)
  5. ^ Cytowic, RE (1996) The Neurological Side of Neuropsychology Cambridge: MIT Press ISBN 978-0-262-03231-5 (pp 224-226, 235-237)
  6. ^ September 27, 1981
  7. ^ The Neurological Side of Neuropsychology(1996). Cambridge: MIT Press ISBN 978-0-262-03231-5
  8. ^ Love Doctor essays for Metro Weekly Magazine
  9. ^ Checkhov pdf
  10. ^ Aphasia in Maurice Ravel, Irwin Brody Award for History of Neuroscience, Duke University (1978). Available at Ravel pdf
  11. ^ Nabokov archives
  12. ^ Sacks, Oliver (2007). Musicophilia. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 178–179. ISBN 978-1-400-04081-0. 
  13. ^ Video on YouTube
  14. ^ Recognition: Alumni of the Year, Hun School of Princeton. Accessed March 6, 2011.
  15. ^ Richard Cytowic's Academic CV
  16. ^
  17. ^

External links[edit]