About Richard J. Davidson

Dr. Davidson is the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Founder and Director of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he has been a faculty member since 1984. Throughout his career, he has published more than 375 articles and 80 chapters/reviews as well as edited 14 books.

He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Psychology, Psychopathology & Psychophysiology with a minor focus in Behavioral Neurology and Neuroanatomy; and a B.S., in Psychology from New York University.

Watch the full video sharing Dr. Davidson's story.


research focus

His research is broadly focused on the neural bases of emotion and emotional style as well as methods to promote human flourishing, including meditation and related contemplative practices. His studies have centered on people across the lifespan, from birth through old age. In addition, he’s conducted studies with individuals with emotional disorders such as mood and anxiety disorders and autism, as well as expert meditation practitioners with tens of thousands of hours of experience. His research uses a wide range of methods including different varieties of MRI, positron emission tomography, electroencephalography and modern genetic and epigenetic methods.

For a full list of Dr. Davidson's scientific publications, visit the Center for Healthy Minds website.


Davidson is best known for his groundbreaking work studying emotion and the brain. A friend and confidante of the Dalai Lama, he is a highly sought after expert and speaker, leading conversations on well-being on international stages such as the World Economic Forum, where he serves on the Global Council on Mental Health. Time Magazine named Davidson one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2006.




He has published hundreds of scientific papers and is the author, with Sharon Begley, of The New York Times bestseller "The Emotional Life of Your Brain" published by Penguin in 2012. His new book "Altered Traits" was published September 2017 with close friend and colleague Daniel Goleman. 

He has been featured widely in popular media, including the Today Show, ABC’s NightlineNational Public RadioNational Geographic MagazineTime MagazineNewsweek, O: the Oprah Magazine, PBS’s The Charlie Rose ShowHarvard Business Review, and additional national and international news outlets.

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