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Center for Healthy Minds

University of Wisconsin–Madison
625 W. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703-2637
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Midlife Development in the United States

Image by plamensart via iStockPhoto

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.

People Working on This Study

Richard J. Davidson
Founder, Center for Healthy Minds & Healthy Minds Innovations, William James & Vilas Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry
Lauren Gresham
Senior Research Specialist, Center for Healthy Minds
Mike Kelly
Mike Kelly
Research Specialist, Center for Healthy Minds
David Lee
David Lee
Research Specialist, Center for Healthy Minds
Walker Pendersen
Walker S. Pedersen
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Healthy Minds
Stacey Schaefer
Stacey Schaefer
Associate Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds
Sasha Sommerfeldt2
Sasha Sommerfeldt
Graduate Student, Center for Healthy Minds
Laurel Quinlan
Laurel Quinlan
Associate Research Specialist, Center for Healthy Minds
Emily Urban
Emily Urban
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Related Publications

Hosseinbor, A. P., Chung, M. K., Koay, C. G., Schaefer, S. M., van Reekum, C. M., Schmitz, L. P., Sutterer, M., Alexander, A. L., & Davidson, R. J. (2015). 4D hyperspherical harmonic (HyperSPHARM) representation of surface anatomy: A holistic treatment of multiple disconnected anatomical structures. Medical Image Analysis, 22(1), 89–101. PMCID: PMC4405486
Schaefer, S. M., van Reekum, C. M., Lapate, R. C., Heller, A. S., Grupe, D. W., & Davidson, R. J. (2018). The temporal dynamics of emotional responding: Implications for well-being and health from the MIDUS Neuroscience Project. In C. D. Ryff & R. F. Krueger (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Integrative Health Science. New York: Oxford University Press. (Book) PMCID: Policy Exempt -- Not a peer-reviewed research article. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190676384.013.27
van Reekum, C. M., Schaefer, S. M., Lapate, R. C., Norris, C. J., Tun, P. A., Lachman, M. E., Ryff, C. A., & Davidson, R. J. (2018). Aging is associated with a prefrontal lateral-medial shift during picture-induced negative affect. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 13(2), 156-63. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsx144 PMCID: PMC5827343
Hostinar, C. E., Davidson, R. J., Graham, E. K., Mroczek, D. K., Lachman, M. E., Seeman, T. E., van Reekum, C. M., & Miller, G. E. (2017). Frontal brain asymmetry, childhood maltreatment, and low-grade inflammation at midlife. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 75, 152-163. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.10.026 PMCID: PMC5289285
Ryff, C. D., Heller, A. S., Schaefer, S. M., van Reekum, C., & Davidson, R. J. (2016). Purposeful engagement, healthy aging, and the brain. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports, 3(4), 318–327. doi:10.1007/s40473-016-0096-z PMCID: PMC5438094
Chung, M. K., Schaefer, S. M., Van Reekum, C. M., Peschke-Schmitz, L., Sutterer, M. J., & Davidson, R. J. (2014). A unified kernel regression for diffusion wavelets on manifolds detects aging-related changes in the amygdala and hippocampus. MICCAI,17(Pt 2), 789–96. PMCID: PMC4334354
Lapate, R. C., van Reekum, C. M., Schaefer, S. M., Greischar, L. L., Norris, C. J., Bachhuber, D. R. W., Ryff, C. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2014). Prolonged marital stress is associated with short-lived responses to positive stimuli. Psychophysiology, 51(6), 499–509. doi:10.1111/psyp.12203 PMCID: PMC4008713
Heller, A. S., van Reekum, C. M., Schaefer, S. M., Lapate, R. C., Radler, B. T., Ryff, C. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). Sustained striatal activity predicts eudaimonic well-being and cortisol output. Psychological Science, 24(11), 2191–2200. doi:10.1177/0956797613490744 PMCID: PMC3866962
Schaefer, S. M., Boylan J. M., van Reekum C. M., Lapate R. C., Norris C. J., Ryff C. D., & Davidson R. J. (2013). Purpose in life predicts better emotional recovery from negative stimuli. PLoS ONE, 8(11), e80329. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080329 PMCID: PMC3827458
Javaras, K. N., Schaefer, S. M., van Reekum, C. M., Lapate, R. C., Greischar, L. L., Bachhuber, D. R., Dienberg Love, G., Ryff, C. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2012). Conscientiousness predicts greater recovery from negative emotion. Emotion, 12(5), 875-881. doi:10.1037/a0028105 PMCID: PMC3434282
van Reekum, C. M., Schaefer, S., Lapate, R., Norris, C., Greischar, L. L., & Davidson, R. J. (2011). Aging is associated with positive responding to neutral information but reduced recovery from negative information. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 6(2), 177-85. doi:10.1093/scan/nsq031 PMCID: PMC3073385
Grupe, D. W., Schaefer, S. M., Lapate, R. C., Schoen, A. J., Gresham, L. K., Mumford, J. A., & Davidson, R. J. (2018). Behavioral and neural indices of affective coloring for neutral social stimuli. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 13(3), 310-20. doi: 10.1101/178384 PMCID: PMC5836278
Chung, M. K., Kim, S. G., Schaefer, S. M., Van Reekum, C. M., Peschke-Schmitz, L., Sutterer, M. J., & Davidson, R. J. (2014). Improved statistical power with a sparse shape model in detecting an aging effect in the hippocampus and amygdala. In Medical Imaging 2014: Image Processing (Vol. 9034, p. 90340Y). International Society for Optics and Photonics.
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