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We all have different experiences, behavior, and psychological and social factors that shape health and well-being throughout our lifespans. Through one of the longest and most comprehensive human health research projects in the world, we explore the realities of people’s lives in conjunction with differences in individuals’ brain structure, function and emotional processes. This knowledge is critical in identifying the most appropriate and effective ways to improve well-being as people maintain relationships, raise children, balance work and family responsibilities, and grow older.
Our Center comprises the Neuroscience Project of the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) study, a longitudinal study looking at health and well-being in Americans in their 20s through 90s.
Beginning in 1995 with the support of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network and later supported by the National Institute on Aging, the study consists of several collaborative research projects that explore different aspects of aging and well-being in the same participants. Over the years, a team of scholars and researchers from diverse disciplines has investigated how life experiences, behavior, and psychological and social factors shape age-related variations in health and well-being in a national sample of Americans.
In the MIDUS Neuroscience Project, our scientists examine the brain circuitry that gives rise to individual differences in emotional style and how that affects a person’s vulnerability or resilience to health and disease. Using tools such as structural, functional, and perfusion MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, and psychophysiological measurements, we study differences in emotional responses to emotion eliciting stimuli, such as emotional reactivity and recovery processes, brain morphology in emotion and stress regulatory pathways, and later memory for the emotional stimuli.
The research team at the Center tests how individual differences in brain structure and function, as well as emotional reactivity and recovery processes and emotional memory biases, are associated with the comprehensive array of health, cognitive, psychological, social and life challenge factors assessed in the other MIDUS projects.
The MIDUS study has received funding to bring back participants for a third follow-up. Our lab is currently collecting data on the same participants repeating assessments approximately 10 years apart. This longitudinal data will allow us to examine how individual differences in emotional reactivity, recovery, and sustaining processes change with increasing age, different life experiences, as well as how different emotional response styles may promote or prevent resilience and well-being. These data will be especially interesting because this 10-year period will have included the Great Recession, which we know had an impact on many of our participants from their responses to other MIDUS Projects’ questions on health, financial, and emotional well-being.
Learn more about the national project and the 900-plus papers published from this research on the MIDUS website.