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THE MIDUS AFFECTIVE NEUROSCIENCE PROJECT
We all have different experiences, environments, behavior, and psychological and social factors that shape our health and well-being throughout our lifespans and its different stages of development. 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 their brain health, brain aging, and emotional processes over time. This knowledge is critical in identifying the most appropriate and effective ways to improve and maintain well-being and brain health as people build relationships, raise children, balance work and family responsibilities, and grow older
The MIDUS Affective Neuroscience Project is one of multiple collaborative projects comprising the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) study, a longitudinal study looking at health and well-being in Americans in their 20s through 100s. A brief description of MIDUS is provided here, see http://midus.wisc.edu for more information.
Beginning in 1995 with the support of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network and later supported by the National Institute on Aging, 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 Affective Neuroscience Project, our scientists examine brain health, brain aging, and, in particular, the brain circuitry that gives rise to individual differences in emotional style and emotional wellbeing. Using tools such as structural, functional, diffusion, and perfusion MRI as well as psychophysiological measurements, we study differences in the time course of emotional responses to emotion eliciting stimuli, later memory for the emotional stimuli, as well as differences in brain morphology and activity in emotion and stress regulatory pathways. Our goal is to understand how differences in emotional processes affects a person’s vulnerability or resilience to health, disease, cognitive decline, and neurodegeneration. We want to know how individual differences in brain structure, function, and connectivity, as well as emotional reactivity and recovery processes and biases in emotional perception and memory, are associated with the comprehensive array of health, cognitive, psychological, social and life challenge factors assessed in the other MIDUS projects.
The MIDUS study is currently bringing back the Core sample participants for a 4th follow-up and the Refresher sample for a 2nd follow-up. This longitudinal data will allow us to examine how individual differences in emotional processes change with increasing age, different life experiences, as well as how different emotional styles may promote resilience vs. increase vulnerability to cognitive decline and neurodegeneration. These data will be especially informative because the longitudinal data span both the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted many of our participants based on their responses to survey questions on health, financial, and emotional well-being. In addition, MIDUS features a sample of Black Americans from Milwaukee, WI, one of the most segregated regions of the United States. The inclusion of this sample allows for investigations on how racial disparities may contribute to disease risk, and how Black Americans’ risk factors and disease manifestation may differ from those of White Americans. The MIDUS longitudinal data allow examinations of the mechanisms by which socioeconomic and racial disparities impact health, the brain, and well-being.
Learn more about the national project and the +1500 papers published from this research on the MIDUS website.