About Dean

This is the website for Doctor Dean Burnett, neuroscientist, lecturer, author, blogger, media pundit, science communicator, comedian and numerous other things, depending on who’s asking and what they need.

Although employed as a tutor and lecturer by the Cardiff University Centre for Medical Education in his day job, Dean is best known for his satirical science column ‘Brain Flapping‘ at the Guardian, and his internationally acclaimed debut book ‘The Idiot Brain‘.


Dean Burnett was born and raised in Pontycymer, a former mining village in the South Wales valleys, which explains his strong Welsh accent and occasional working-class chip-on-the-shoulder. In truth he was actually born in Bridgend General Hospital, which was shut down, abandoned and demolished soon after.

From the age of two until around fifteen he lived in the popular community pub The Royal Hotel, where he acquired his interest in performing and surreal sense of humour. The pub has since closed down and is now derelict.

He completed his GCSEs and A-levels at Ynysawdre Comprehensive School, a local comprehensive school which has since been absorbed into a larger conglomerate ‘super school’. It’s at this point that Dean first suspected that time travellers from the future were trying to erase his existence from history.

Dean then attended Cardiff University to complete a BSc in Neuroscience. After graduating he worked several jobs, mostly in catering, but then spent nearly two years embalming cadavers for the local medical school, which was as bad as it sounds. This is when Dean first attempted stand up comedy as he figured hw could it be any worse than the day job, and has yet to kick the eventual habit of making himself look stupid for the amusement of others on stage.

Eventually  he returned to Cardiff University as part of the Psychology School where he completed a neuroscience PhD in the role of the hippocampus in configural learning. However, a run of bad lack with his experimental results and several embarrassing appearances in the local media meant Dean’s academic credibility and career prospects were essentially ruined, so he channelled most of his energies into comedy, writing and science communication.  This eventually resulted in a regular blog on the Guardian website in 2012, and everything else just flowed from there.

Media, writing and performing work

As well as his regular Guardian blog, Dean Burnett has also written for The Telegraph, Buzzfeed, GQ, BBC Focus, Lonely Planet Guide, Women’s Health, AboutIslam.net, LA Times, ReThink (the mental health charity), The Big Issue, Wales Weekend Magazine, New York Moves Magazine, Pitchfork, New York Magazine, and many more

Since the publication of his first book, Dean Burnett has appeared on numerous radio programmes and channels, including Radio 4 Midweek, Radio Wales, Monocle Radio, NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ with Terry Gross, CBC (Canada), Science Cafe, Radio 5 Live, Steve Wright in the Afternoon, Absolute Radio, Fubar Radio, CBC (Canada), ABC (Australia) and loads more

Dean has performed or spoken on stage alongside (or on the same bill as) notable names like Simon Pegg, Jo Brand, Robin Ince, Prof. Brian Cox, Helen Czerski, Helen Keen, Russell Howard, Tony Law, Elis James, Simon Munnery, Andy Parsons, and so many others.

His TV appearances, though fewer in number, include Sunday Brunch, Wales Live, Sky News, Ducks Quacks Don’t Echo, and Sky News a few more times.

He is a regular at literary and science festivals all around the UK, and has even been asked to talk as far afield as Holland, Belgium, Italy and Canada.


Dean Burnett’s first book, The Idiot Brain, has (since debuting in February 2016) been sold to over 20 countries, had tens of thousands of copies purchased, and been a bestseller in nations like Canada and Mexico.

His second book, The Happy Brain, is due for release in the UK, USA and Canada in May 2018

He also wrote a thesis, which has thus far been read by about 6 people. Two of them were the markers who didn’t like it that much, and one was his gran who didn’t really follow what was being said.

Personal life

Dean Burnett lives in Cardiff with his wife, children and cat. That’s as personal as you’re getting here.