DAVIDSON, RICHARD / Medicine / Researchers

International Center for Scientific Research





Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry
Department of Psychiatry
Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute & Clinics
Madison, USA

Director of the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging & Behavior

Research interests

Research in the Davidson lab is focused on the neural substrates of emotion, mood, emotional regulation and affective style and disorders of emotion. These topics are explored in many different groups ranging in age from infants through old age and in both normal individuals and individuals with specific types of disorders including both adult (e.g., mood and anxiety disorders) and childhood (e.g., autism, fragile X) psychiatric, neurological and genetic disorders.

Some of its work addresses relations between the central circuitry of emotion and affective style and peripheral biological systems that are consequential for health (the autonomic, endocrine and immune systems). Methods that are featured in the Davidson lab include functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging, quantitative high-density electrophysiology and positron-emission tomography. In addition, autonomic, endocrine and immune measures are frequently obtained in particular studies. The overriding theme that is common among most work conducted in the lab concerns the neural mechanisms that underlie individual differences in specific parameters of emotional reactivity. Such individual differences are viewed as central to understanding risk for various types of pathology.

Prizes and awards

He is the recipient of numerous awards for his research including a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Award, a MERIT Award from NIMH, an Established Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders (NARSAD), the William James Fellow Award from the American Psychological Society, and the Hilldale Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was the 1997 Distinguished Scientific Lecturer for the American Psychological Association. He was the year 2000 recipient of the most prestigious award given by the American Psychological Association for lifetime achievement-the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.


Davidson, Richard J (Ed.), et al. Handbook of Affective Sciences. Oxford University Press: 2002.

Davidson, Richard J. and Kenneth Hugdahl (Eds.). The Asymmetrical Brain. MIT Press: 2002.

Pizzagalli, D., Pascual Marqui, R.D., Nitschke, J.B., Oakes, T.R., Larson, C.L., Abercrombie, H.C., Schaefer, S.M., Koger, J., Benca, R.M., & Davidson, R.J. (2001). Anterior cingulate activity predicts degree of treatment response in major depression: Evidence from Brain Electrical Tomography Analysis. The American Journal of 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.

Davidson, R.J. (2000). Affective style, psychopathology, and resilience: Brain mechanisms and plasticity. American Psychologist, 55, 1196-1214.

Davidson, R.J., Marshall, J.R., Tomarken, A.J. & Henriques, J.B. (2000). While a phobic waits: Regional brain electrical and autonomic activity in social phobics during anticipation of public speaking. Biological Psychiatry, 47, 85-95.

Davidson, R.J. & Irwin, W. (1999). The functional neuroanatomy of emotion and affective style. Trends in Cognitive Science, 3,11-21.

Davidson, R.J., Abercrombie, H.C., Nitschke, J. & Putnam, K. (1999). Regional brain function, emotion and disorders of emotion. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 9, 228-234.

Abercrombie, H.C., Schaefer, S.M., Larson, C.L., Oakes, T.R., Lindgren, K.A., Holden, J.E., Perlman, S.E., Turski, P.A., Krahn, D.D., Benca, R.M., & Davidson, R.J. (1998). Metabolic rate in the right amygdala predicts negative affect in depressed patients. NeuroReport, 9, 3301-3307.

Davidson, R.J. (1998). Affective style and affective disorders: Perspectives from affective neuroscience. Cognition and emotion, 12, 307-330.

Sutton, S.K. & Davidson, R.J. (1997). Prefrontal brain asymmetry: A biological substrate of the behavioral approach and inhibition systems.Psychological Science, 8, 204-210.

Irwin, W., Davidson, R.J., Lowe, M.J., Mock, B.J., Sorenson, J.A. & Turski, P.A. (1996). Human amygdala activation detected with echo-planar funcitonal magnetic resonance imaging. NeuroReport, 7, 1765-1769.

Davidson, R.J. & Sutton, S.K. (1995). Affective neuroscience: The emergence of a discipline. Special Cognitive Neuroscience issue for Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 5, 217-224.

Davidson, R.J. & Hughdahl, K. (Eds.) (1995). Brain asymmetry. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Tomarken, A.J., & Davidson, R.J. (1994). Frontal brain activation in repressors and nonrepressors. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 339-349.

Davidson, R.J. (1994). Asymmetric brain function, affective style and psychopathology: The role of early experience and plasticity. Development and Psychopathology, 6, 741-758.

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