Laboratory Director

Richard Davidson

Richard J. Davidson
Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry
Ph.D. 1976, Harvard University

Brodgen Office: 318
Waisman Center Office: T-225
Phone: 608.265.8189

Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience
Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging & Behavior
Center for Investigating Healthy Minds
Dr. Davidson's personal website,, with information on his book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain.

Research in my laboratories is focused on cortical and subcortical substrates of emotion and affective disorders, including depression and anxiety. We study normal adults and young children, and those with, or at risk for, affective and anxiety disorders. We use quantitative electrophysiology, positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging to make inferences about patterns of regional brain function. A major focus of our current work is on interactions between prefrontal cortex and the amygdala in the regulation of emotion in both normal subjects and patients with affective and anxiety disorders.

Dr. Davidson's CV (PDF)
Full list of articles, books and chapters

Representative Publications

Hanson, J., Chung, M., Avants, B., Shritcliff, E., Gee, J., Davidson, R. J., & Pollak, S. (2010). Early stress is associated with alterations in the orbitofrontal cortex: A tensor-based morphometry investigation of brain structure and behavioral risk. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(22), 7466-72. PMCID: PMC2893146

Jahn, A.L., Fox, A.S., Abercrombie, H.C., Shelton, S.E., Oakes, T.,R., Davidson, R.J., Kalin, N.H. (2010). Subgenual PFC Activity Predicts Individual Differences in HPA Activity Across Different Contexts. Biological Psychiatry, 67, 175-81. Supplement 1. PMCID: PMC2804442

Oler, J. A., Fox, A. S., Shelton, S. E., Rogers, J., Dyer, T. D., Davidson, R. J., Shelledy, W., Oakes, T. R., Blangero, J., & Kalin, N. H. (2010). Amygdalar and hippocampal substrates of anxious temperament differ in their heritability. Nature, 466, 864-8. Supplemental Information. doi:10.1038/nature09282. Editorial comment. PMCID: PMC2998538

Schuyler, B. S., Ollinger, J. M., Oakes, T. R., Johnstone, T., & Davidson, R. J. (2010). Dynamic causal modeling applied to fMRI data shows high reliability. NeuroImage, 49(1), 603-611. PMCID: PMC2867050

Shackman, A. J., McMenamin, B. W., Maxwell, J. S., Greischar, L. L., & Davidson, R. J. (2010). Identifying robust and sensitive frequency bands for interrogating neural oscillations. Neuroimage, 51, 1319–1333. PMCID: PMC2871966

Lee, H., Shackman, A. J., Jackson, D. C., & Davidson, R. J. (2009). Test-retest reliability of voluntary emotion regulation. Psychophysiology, 46, 874-879. PMCID: PMC2706917

Light, S. N., Coan, J. A., Zahn-Waxler, C., Frye, C., Goldsmith, H. H., & Davidson, R. J. (2009). Empathy is associated with dynamic change in prefrontal brain electrical activity during positive emotion in children. Child Development, 80(4), 1210-1231. PMCID: PMC2717040

Lutz, A., Slagter, H., Rawling, N., Francis, A., Greischar, L. L., Davidson, R.J. (2009). Mental training enhances attentional stability: Neural and behavioral evidence. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(42), 13418 –13427.

Oler, J. A., Fox, A.S., Shelton, S.E., Christian, B.T., Murali, D., Oakes, T.R., Davidson, R. J., Kalin, N. K. (2009). Serotonin Transporter Availability in the Amygdala and Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis Predicts Anxious Temperament and Brain Glucose Metabolic Activity. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(32), 9961-9966. PMCID: PMC2756094

Fox, A. S., Shelton, S. E., Oakes, T. R., Davidson, R. J., & Kalin, N. H. (2008). Trait-like brain activity during adolescence predicts anxious temperament in primates. PLoS ONE, 3(7), e2570. PMCID: PMC2430534

Lutz, A., Slagter, H. A., Dunne, J., & Davidson, R. J. (2008). Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 12 (4), 163-169. NIHMS # 82882

Brefczynski-Lewis J. A., Lutz, A., Schaefer, H. S., Levinson, D. B. & Davidson, R. J. (2007). Neural correlates of attentional expertise in long-term meditation practitioners. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(27) 11483-11488.

Johnstone, T., van Reekum, C. M., Urry, H. L., Kalin, N. H. & Davidson R. J. (2007). Failure to regulate:  Counter-productive recruitment of top-down prefrontal-subcortical circuitry in major depression. Journal of Neuroscience 27: 8877-8884.

Slagter, H. A., Lutz, A., Greischar, L. L., Francis, A. D., Nieuwenhuis, S., Davis, J. M. & Davidson, R. J. (2007). Mental training affects use of limited brain resources. PLoS Biology Vol. 5, No. 6, e138 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050138 PMCID: PMC1865565

van Reekum, C. M., Urry, H. L., Johnstone, T., Thurow, M. E., Frye, C. J., Jackson, C. A., Schaefer, H. S., Alexander, A. L., & Davidson, R. J. (2007). Individual differences in amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex activity are associated with evaluation speed and psychological well-being. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19 237-248.

Coan, J. A., Schaefer, H. S. & Davidson, R. J. (2006). Lending a hand: Social regulation of the neural response to threat. Psychological Science, 17(12) 1032-1039.

Nacewicz, B.M., Dalton, K.M., Johnstone, T., Long, M., McAuliff, E.M., Oakes, T.R., Alexander, A.L. & Davidson, R.J. (2006) Amygdala volume and nonverbal social impairment in adolescent and adult males with autism. Archives of General Psychiatry 63:1417-1428.

Nitschke, J. B., Dixon, G. E., Sarinopoulos, I., Short, S. J., Cohen, J. D., Smith, E. E., Kosslyn, S. M., Rose, R. M., & Davidson, R. J. (2006). Altering expectancy dampens neural response to aversive taste in primary taste cortex. Nature Neuroscience, 9(3):435-42.

Urry, H. L., van Reekum, C. M., Johnstone, T., Kalin, N. H., Thurow, M. E., Schaefer, H. S., Jackson, C. A., Frye, C. J., Greischar, L. L., Alexander, A. L., & Davidson, R. J.  (2006). Amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex are inversely coupled during regulation of negative affect and predict the diurnal pattern of cortisol secretion among older adults. Journal of Neuroscience, 26, 4415-4425

Dalton KM, Nacewicz BM, Johnstone T, Schaefer HS, Gernsbacher MA, Goldsmith HH, Alexander AL, Davidson RJ. (2005) Gaze fixation and the neural circuitry of face processing in autism. Nature Neuroscience. 8, 519-526.

Fox A.S., Oakes T.R., Shelton S.E., Converse A.K., Davidson R.J., Kalin N.H.(2005). Calling for help is independently modulated by brain systems underlying goal-directed behavior and threat perception. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102, 4176-4179.

Rosenkranz, M. A., Busse, W. W., Johnstone, T., Swenson, C. A., Crisafi, G. M., Jackson, M. M., Bosch, J. A., Sheridan, J. F., & Davidson, R. J. (2005). Neural circuitry underlying the interaction between emotion and asthma symptom exacerbation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102, 13319-13324.

Davidson, R. J., Shackman, A. J., & Maxwell, J. S. (2004). Asymmetries in face and brain related to emotion. Trends in Cognitive Science, 8(9), 389-391.

Lutz A, Greischar LL, Rawlings NB, Ricard M, Davidson RJ. (2004) Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 101:16369-73.

Salomons TV, Johnstone T, Backonja MM, Davidson RJ. (2004) Perceived controllability modulates the neural response to pain. Journal of Neuroscience. 24:7199-203.

Urry HL, Nitschke JB, Dolski I, Jackson DC, Dalton KM, Mueller CJ, Rosenkranz MA, Ryff CD, Singer BH, Davidson RJ. (2004) Making a life worth living: neural correlates of well-being. Psychological Science 15:367-72.

Wager TD, Rilling JK, Smith EE, Sokolik A, Casey KL, Davidson RJ, Kosslyn SM, Rose RM, Cohen JD. (2004) Placebo-induced changes in FMRI in the anticipation and experience of pain. Science 303:1162-7.

Davidson, R. J. (2003). Affective neuroscience and psychophysiology: Toward a synthesis. Psychophysiology, 40, 655-665.

Rosenkranz MA, Jackson DC, Dalton KM, Dolski I, Ryff CD, Singer BH, Muller D, Kalin NH, Davidson RJ. (2003) Affective style and in vivo immune response: neurobehavioral mechanisms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 100:11148-52.

Davidson, R. J., Pizzagalli, D., Nitschke, J. B., & Putnam, K. M. (2002). Depression:  Perspectives from affective neuroscience. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 545-574.

Davidson, R. J. (2001). Toward a biology of personality and emotion. Ann.N.Y.Acad.Sci., 935, 191-207.

Kalin, N. H., Shelton, S. E., Davidson, R. J., & Kelley, A. E. (2001).The primate amygdala mediates acute fear but not the behavioral and physiological components of anxious temperament. Journal of Neuroscience, 21, 2067-2074.

Pizzagalli, D., Pascual-Marqui, R. D., Nitschke, J. B., Oakes, T. R., Larson, C.L., Abercrombie, H. C., Schaefer, S. M., Koger, J. V., Benca, R. M., & Davidson, R. J. (2001). Anterior cingulate activity as a predictor of degree of treatment response in major depression: evidence from brain electrical tomography analysis. Am.J Psychiatry, 158, 405-415.

Davidson, R.J., Putnam, K.M. & Larson, C.L. (2000). Dysfunction in the neural circuitry of emotion regulation-A possible prelude to violence. Science, 289 591-594.

Davidson, R.J., Jackson,D.C. & Kalin,N.H.(2000). Emotion, plasticity, context and regulation: Perspectives from affective neuroscience. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 890-906.