Dr Douglas Watt was trained in psychology and neuropsychology at Harvard University and Boston College, completing his PhD studies in 1985 after getting a BA in 1972 at Harvard and a Master’s Degree in Psychology at Northeastern in 1976. Over the past 40 years of a varied clinical practice, he has served as Director of Clinical Neuropsychology at two local Boston teaching hospitals, and has been on the faculty of the Boston University School of Medicine for more than 20 years. He was also a faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis and Institute for the Study of Violence for several years, teaching doctoral level courses on affective neuroscience and its implications for the mental health sciences. He had a teaching fellow/community faculty appointment at Harvard Medical School for seven years, teaching a yearly course for postdoctoral fellows, neurologists, psychiatrists, and neuropsychologists in clinical neuroscience, neuroanatomy, and neurodegenerative disorders in Cambridge MA from 2007 until June of 2013, and also an Adjunct Professor appointment at Lesley University, also in Cambridge, MA, teaching behavioral neuroscience and biological psychology in their graduate school program in psychology.
Dr. Watt suffers, as one colleague described, from a “deplorable excess of interests,” among them the core ‘impossible questions’ in science about the nested hierarchy of the three fundamental mysteries: the emergence of matter, with that, the emergence of life, and within those evolutionary trajectories, the emergence of mind. He has always believed in the value of the ‘big picture overview,’ and credits Marcel Mesulam with providing a lucid model early in his career for benchmark scientific reviews of complex and challenging subjects, when he was exposed in his doctoral program to the brilliant first chapter by Marcel in his 1985 classic textbook, the Principles of Behavioral Neurology. This cemented a long-term interest in both clinical neuroscience and in scientific writing.
Committed to teaching and the clarification of scientific concepts and findings, Dr. Watt has given over 100 talks to local, national, and international groups on clinical syndromes in neuropsychiatry and neuropsychology, and on topics in cognitive and affective neuroscience.
He has contributed roughly 75 peer-reviewed articles and reviews, and over a half dozen book chapters, on varied subjects in neuroscience and neurobiology, covering the biology of aging, the neurobiology and neuropsychology of depression, the neurobiology of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative dementias, and the neurobiology of delirium and confusional states.
He counts as one of the great privileges of his professional career a 2+ decades-long collaboration, friendship and mentoring from preeminent neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp, with whom shared many projects, including six week-long seminars covering subjects in affective neuroscience, and a half-dozen or more publications. Specifically, he co-authored with Jaak Panksepp a 25,000 word target article on the neurobiology of depression, emphasizing its conserved evolutionary basis and its primary mechanistic relationship to protracted separation distress, offering a social brain-centric view of depression lacking in much of contemporary mainstream biological psychiatry. Dr. Watt and Dr. Panksepp also collaborated on an edited volume on the neurobiology and psychology of empathy, published by Nova Science just before Jaak's untimely death in April of 2017.
Dr. Watt is enthusiastic about teaching, editing and research reviewing, and contributing to the scientific clarification of protective mechanisms in promising nutraceuticals, and how to understand and thereby more effectively treat the multifactorial/multidimensional process of neurodegeneration. Current projects include an upcoming seminar on the Neurobiology of Alzheimer's disease for the Mass Neuropsychological Society, and an updated comprehensive review paper on depression. He believes that the best science emerges from a fundamental humility in the face of Nature.