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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 portion of the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) project, 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, the project consists of five portions that explore different aspects of aging and well-being. 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 neuroscience portion of the larger study, 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 mental health challenges. Using tools such as structural, functional and perfusion MRI, diffusion tensor imaging as well as psychophysiological measurements, we study emotional reactivity and recovery, brain morphology in emotion and stress regulatory pathways, and neural circuits when people regulate their emotions.

The research team at the Center tests how individual differences in brain structure and function, as well as emotional reactivity and recovery processes, 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 just received funding to bring back participants for a third follow-up, and our lab will obtain repeat assessments approximately 10 years apart, allowing us to examine how individual differences in emotional reactivity, recovery, and sustaining processes change with increasing age, life experiences, as well as how they 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 undoubtedly had an impact on many of our participants.

Learn more about the national project and the 600-plus papers published from this research on the MIDUS website.

People Working on This Study

Daphnee Chabal
Daphnee Chabal
Honorary Affiliate, Center for Healthy Minds
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
Dan Grupe
Assistant Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds
Mike Kelly
Mike Kelly
Research Specialist, Center for Healthy Minds
David Lee Web
David Lee
Associate 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
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