MIDUS Affective Neuroscience Project

We have potential Postdoctoral Fellow openings on the MIDUS Affective Neuroscience Project.

The MIDUS Affective Neuroscience Project

Our experiences, physical and social environments, and psychological factors shape our 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 their brain health, brain aging, and emotional processes over time. This knowledge is critical in identifying the most individually appropriate and effective ways to improve and maintain well-being and brain health as people build relationships and careers, balance work and family responsibilities, experience and overcome challenges, and grow older.

Study Details

Lauren Gresham placing device on participant's faceThe 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. See https://midus.wisc.edu for more information about the broader project that began in 1995.

In the MIDUS Affective Neuroscience Project, our scientists examine brain health and brain aging with a focus on the brain circuitry that gives rise to individual differences in emotional style and emotional well-being. Psychophysiological and neuroimaging measures are used to study differences in the time course of emotional responses in the body and the brain to emotion eliciting stimuli and each person’s later memory for the stimuli. Our goal is to understand how differences in emotional processes affects a person’s vulnerability or resilience to disease, cognitive decline, and neurodegeneration by examining how differences in (1) emotional reactivity and recovery processes, (2) emotional biases in perception and memory, and (3) brain structure, function, and connectivity in emotion and stress regulatory pathways are associated with the comprehensive array of health, cognitive, psychological, social and life challenge factors assessed in the other MIDUS projects.Lauren Gresham monitoring test on computer screen

The MIDUS study is currently bringing back the Refresher sample for a 2nd follow-up and the Core sample participants for a 4th follow-up. These longitudinal data will allow us to examine how individual differences in emotional processes change with increasing age, different life experiences and stages, 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, a third of our neuroscience participants are Black Americans from Milwaukee, WI, one of the most segregated regions of the United States. Their information is critically important for learning how racial disparities may contribute to disease risk, and how risk factors and disease manifestation for Black Americans 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 to highlight and inform where change is most needed.

The MIDUS Neuroscience Project team is housed in the historic Keystone House at 901 University Bay Drive. Data collection is conveniently just down the hill at the Waisman Center in the Waisman Brain Imaging Core, which also hosts brain imaging research seminars and talks.

People Working on This Study

MIDUS Neuroscience staff standing outside of Keystone House on a warm fall day. Back row left to right: Elizabeth Nord, Dan Fitch, Yiyi Zhu, Mingtong Liu, Ajay Kumar Nair. Front row left to right: Jinx Recchio, Lauren Gresham, Anna Finley, Jeanne Harris, Sarah Skinner, Stacey M. Schaefer.

Stacey M. Schaefer, Study Leader and PI

Lauren Gresham, Study Program Manager

Elizabeth Nord, Jinx Recchio, Sarah Skinner, Research Specialists

Jeanne Harris, Clinical Research Coordinator

Ayan Sengupta, Multimodal Imaging Scientist

Anna Finley, Mingtong Liu, Yiyi Zhu, Postdoctoral Fellows & Research Associates

Nagesh Adluru, Ajay Kumar Nair, Scientists

Dan Fitch, Software Engineer