Postdoctoral Research Associates
Cortland is interested in exploring the interface between the body, the mind, and the brain, and especially in the question of how meditation and other contemplative practices may help us cultivate positive qualities like compassion and resilience. His current work focuses on the effects of long-term meditation practice on aversive conditioning.
I am interested in the way that emotional and empathetic brain systems influence decision-making and pro-social behaviors. During my graduate career I hope to use functional brain imaging in both humans and rhesus monkeys (Macaque mulatta), to investigate how these interactions occur. Eventually I hope my research leads to novel ways of triggering these brain systems to produce positive behavioral outcomes.
My research interest is to develop innovative brain image segmentation, especially in WM of DTI images using digital image processing and machine vision technique.
More about Jamie
Currently, I am directing a large study examining brain development and early experience. This work seeks to answer how brain development and plasticity give rise to both the commonality and individual differences in a behavioral repertoire.
Upon the completion of that project, I plan to investigate the neural substrates of reward from a development perspective. I am interested in normative aspects of these functions and also how they can be altered via early experience. I hope to interweave and understand individual differences in impulsivity and decision-making in this investigation.
More about Aaron
My research interests include the influence of body states and positions on emotion and memory, as well as the neural underpinnings of approach and avoidant behaviors. Additionally, I plan to pursue a research project investigating the degree to which one's goals may affect or even override the encoding, perception, and memory of stimuli in one's environment.
Awards: 2008 James L. Davis Memorial Graduate Support Fund, "Using neuroscience methodology to advance understanding of clinical depression".
B1138q, 1005 WIMR
Program: Medical Physics
I am currently in the Clinical Neuroscience doctoral program at UW Madison. My present study, advised by Dr. Jack Nitschke, involves neuro-imaging of snake phobia. Specifically, I am interested in how the elements of anticipation and uncontrollability operate in specific phobia, including what brain regions they recruit.
I am particularly interested in the cognitive basis of mood and anxiety disorders, specifically: depression, phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. I am fascinated by the phenomenon of ‘resilience’ and attempting to parcel out its many complex factors. I would like to continue doing research using neuro-imaging methods, but am experienced with other approaches. Ultimately, I would like to be involved in research that will lead to the treatment and prevention of mood and anxiety disorders.
I am interested in advancing our understanding of the structure of affect and affective regulation. Currently, I am conducting experiments that examine the role of conscious access in affective processing-- in particular, affective chronometry and pervasiveness-- using a combination of behavioral, peripheral-physiological and neuroimaging measures.
First year project (2009): "Assessing the Contribution of Affective Style to the Voluntary Regulation of Pain: Integrating Psychophysiology and Neuroimaging in an Investigation of Individual Differences."
Awards: 2013 SPR Student Poster Award for her poster entitled, "Amygdalar Function and Connectivity Underlie Affective Misattribution after Non-Conscious Emotional Processing"; 2009 Psychology travel award from the "Hertz Foundation and Royalty Research Fellowship" for travel to HBM; 2009 SPR Student Poster Award for her poster entitled "The Contribution of Affective Style to the Successful Downregulation of Pain: A Psychophysiological and Neuroimaging Investigation"; 2010 James L. Davis Memorial Graduate Support Fund; 2011 Hertz Travel Award; 2011 Menzies Award for Independent Graduate Student Research; 2012 Schwartz Fellowship; 2012 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Fellowship for the workshop "Biology of Social Cognition".
Daniel received a B.S. from Stanford University and is currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology studying with Dr. Richard Davidson in the Department of Psychology, Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center. His research focuses on the study of mind wandering, mindfulness, and the development of games that may improve mindfulness. His work has garnered awards and funding, such as the Francisco J. Varela Memorial Award. His clinical practice includes facilitating mindfulness groups, and he enjoys meditating.
Awards: 2008 Fetzer Institute Fellowship, Fetzer Initiative on the Neuroscience of Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness; Mind & Life Institute’s 2010-2011 Francisco J. Varela Research Award; 2012 Hertz Travel Award, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Sharee's primary research interest is focused on elucidating the neural bases of positive emotion, with an emphasis on empathy (i.e., the process of understanding and interpreting the mental and emotional states of others and experiencing resultant, related emotions and an other-oriented feeling of goodwill) and contentment as distinct types of positive emotion. Her interest in studying the neural bases of contentment and pleasure comes from her interest in the symptom of anhedonia (i.e., a lack of, or reduced ability to experience pleasure) observed in major depressive disorder (MDD). Sharee also has an interest in separating empathy into its component parts—(a) vicarious emotion and (b) feelings of goodwill using behavioral and psychophysiological methods.
First year project (2005): "The Role of Right-Frontal Activity in a Distinct Form of Positive Affect and Its Relation to Empathetic Temperament."
Awards: 2006 SPR Tursky Award for Excellence in Predoctoral Research in Psychophysiology poster "Reduced activity in ventromedial prefrontal cortex during the regulation of positive affect is a neural marker of anhedonia;” 2009 Ford Dissertation Fellowship Honorable Mention; 2010 Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (National Science Foundation); 2010 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory workshop on "Biology of Social Cognition" scholarship.
My main research interests lie in further understanding socioemotional processing in the aging brain and its impact on decision making. In addition to functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging, I hope to apply methods for multimodal imaging and network connectivity analysis. I am currently investigating the effect of contemplative practice on cortical structure and studying the temporal relationship between white matter integrity and grey matter atrophy with Dr. Barbara Bendlin in the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.
My main research interests include functional imaging of cognitive disorders and neuroreceptor mapping. I am currently working on a project to image dopaminergic neuromodulation using two simultaneous PET tracers. I also collaborate on several studies of novel therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative disorders.
Fun with Dave's head
My original background is in physics, with followup in statistics and computer programming. I have taken course work with a focus on statistical methodology, functional neuroimaging, model-based psychology including neuroeconomics and behavioral game theory, and clinical psychology, particularly depression. My research work has focused on an in-depth development of fMRI methodology skills, and execution and analysis of fMRI experiments relating to cognitive modulation of pain perception in normal participants as well as in long-term meditation practitioners. I am currently developing the outline of my dissertation research program, which will involve using neuroeconomic paradigms to study altruistic reward and the hedonic treadmill effect. I am also studying relations between affective chronometry/affective hysteresis, cognitive models of depression, and cognitive modulation of pain perception. In the bigger picture, I am interested in how techniques such as meditation and fMRI neurofeedback could be used to generate improvements in the functioning of these systems. I have been involved in the design of studies of meditation, as well as piloting fMRI neurofeedback on our scanner. In the long run, I am also interested in using advanced PET tracers to look at the involvement of modulatory neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine, in these potential improvements.
Awards: 2009 Fetzer Institute Fellowship, Fetzer Initiative on the Neuroscience of Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness; 2010 Mind and Life Institute Varela award recipient, "Hedonic sustainability in the BOLD response to selfish and altruistic rewards"
Helen grew up in Sunnyvale, CA and Mt. Sinai, NY. She earned her undergraduate degree at Columbia University in Neuroscience & Behavior, which sparked her interests in affective neuroscience, clinical psychology, and Buddhist philosophy. Before graduate school, she spent a year at the New York State Psychiatric Institute studying the effect transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) on treatment-resistant depression and schizophrenia. She is currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology studying with Dr. Richard Davidson in the Department of Psychology, Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center. She is currently funded by a predoctoral NCCAM fellowship through the Department of Family Medicine. Helen studies the impact of compassion meditation on neural responses to human suffering and altruistic behavior using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and economic decision-making methodology. She also studies the impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, long-term meditation, and brain injury on altruistic behavior. She has received numerous awards for her work including the Francisco J. Varela Memorial Award and the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Graduate Student Award. She was recently appointed a member of the Mind and Life Institute Fellows Board.
Helen's clinical interests include integrating emotion-focused, mindfulness, and interpersonal process approaches to psychotherapy to treat mood disorders. Her long-term goals include studying how interventions that increase love and compassion impact both psychological and physical health in patients, and how training these qualities in health care providers can prevent burnout and improve patient outcomes. She is also passionate about multicultural communication and understanding. Helen loves eating good food with friends, music, and cats.
Awards: 2012 NCCAM predoctoral training fellowship, Department of Family Medicine;
2012 Cognitive Neuroscience Society Graduate Student and Travel Award;
2011-2012 Ramona Messerschmidt Award, Department of Psychology;
2008 Fetzer Institute Fellowship, CIHM;
2008 International Symposium Foundations of Human Behavior Travel Award;
2007-2008 Hertz travel and research award;
2006 Francisco J. Varela Memorial Award, Mind and Life Institute
Program: MD/PhD Student
Ceci is interested in the role of executive function and memory in the risk for internalizing disorders, with a major focus on rumination. She is interested in how rumination affects, and is affected by, cognitive function both immediately and across development. Ceci is also interested in the role of these processes in shaping the narrative self, which she think has implications for psychopathology as well.
Awards: 2010 Rath Fellowship; 2009 Francisco J. Varela Research Award; 2009 Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi induction; 2007 NIMH Fellowship for Recruitment of Undergraduates in Mental Health Research.
My broad motivation is to explore integrated models of emotional health that recognize the complex interactions of cognition, emotion, the body, and the interpersonal environment. I plan to focus my research on phenomena that cross these boundaries in interesting ways.
Awards: 2012 Student poster awards from the Society for the Science of Clinical Psychology; 2010-2012 Fellowship, NIMH Training Program in Emotion Research; 2012 Hertz Travel Award.