Midus Website Home

Project 5 - Neuroscience Project


The Neuroscience Study is Project 5 of the MIDUS longitudinal study, a national survey of more than 7,000 Americans (aged 25 to 74) begun in 1994. The purpose of the larger study was to investigate the role of behavioral, psychological, and social factors in understanding age-related differences in physical and mental health. With support from the National Institute on Aging, a longitudinal follow-up of the original MIDUS samples [core sample (n = 3,487), metropolitan over-samples (n = 757), twins (n = 957 pairs), and siblings (n = 950)] was conducted in 2004-2006. Guiding hypotheses, at the most general level, were that behavioral and psychosocial factors are consequential for health (physical and mental).

The Neuroscience Project of MIDUS 2 contains data from 331 respondents. These respondents include two distinct subsamples, all of whom completed both the Project 1 Survey and the Project 4 biomarker assessment at University of Wisconsin-Madison: (1) longitudinal (n = 223) and (2) Milwaukee (n = 108). The Milwaukee group contained individuals who participated in the baseline MIDUS Milwaukee study, initiated in 2005. The purpose of the Neuroscience Project was to examine the central circuitry associated with individual differences in affective style that represent a continuum from vulnerability to resilience, and characterize some of the peripheral consequences of these central profiles for biological systems that may be relevant to health. The primary aims were to: (1) characterize individual differences in both emotional reactivity and emotional recovery using psychophysiological measures such as corrugator electromyography and eyeblink startle magnitude, (2) characterize individual differences in brain morphology, (3) characterize individual differences in activity within the neural circuitry of emotion regulation using electroencephalography, and (4) test the ability of the central indices in this project to predict the comprehensive array of health, cognitive, psychological, social, and life challenge factors assessed in the other MIDUS projects. To probe individual differences in emotional reactivity and recovery (a key component of regulation) the Neuroscience Project examined psychophysiological measures during the presentation of emotional (positive and negative) and neutral pictures, and these same measures during a post-picture period. The logic of this strategy is that continued activation during the recovery period following a negative stimulus is indicative of poor automatic emotion regulation. Respondents in the Neuroscience Project are a representative subsample of the MIDUS (Midlife in the United States) survey.

Project 5 Documentation
©2011 University of Wisconsin - Madison, Institute on Aging