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.

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.

Davidson has published hundreds of scientific papers, numerous chapters and reviews, and is co-author with Daniel Goleman of “Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body” (Avery, Sept. 5, 2017). He is also the author, with Sharon Begley, of The New York Times bestseller “The Emotional Life of Your Brain” (Penguin, 2012). 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.

Davidson is the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he has been a faculty member since 1984. He is the founder of Healthy Minds Innovations, Inc., an external, affiliated nonprofit dedicated to supporting the mission of the Center for Healthy Minds.

Davidson is the Mind & Life Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA). The CSA is an accomplished senior scientist who has a long history with the Mind & Life Institute and has made substantial contributions to contemplative science. The CSA serves an advisory role on science-related programmatic matters of the Institute


This profile was last updated on January 1, 2020

Mind & Life Connections

2020
2019
2018

2018 Mind & Life Dialogue XXXIII Session

Meta-Awareness and Attention Training in Education Research

Amishi Jha, Sona Dimidjian, Thupten Jinpa Langri, Richard J. Davidson

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Compassion & Empathy | Contemplative Wisdom | Education | Mindfulness | Stress & Resilience

2018 Mind & Life Dialogue XXXIII Session

Early Childhood Development and Social Emotional Learning

Richard J. Davidson, Michel Boivin, Daniel Goleman, Kimberly Schonert-Reichl

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom | Education | Stress & Resilience

2016
2015

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXX – Session 8

Mind and Life Institute • December 17, 2015

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom | Self & Other

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXX – Session 7

Mind and Life Institute • December 17, 2015

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom | Self & Other

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXX – Session 2

Mind and Life Institute • December 17, 2015

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom | Self & Other

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXX – Session 1

Mind and Life Institute • December 17, 2015

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom | Self & Other

Mind & Life Videos

The Mind & Life Institute

Mind and Life Institute • November 25, 2015

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom | Mindfulness | Social Change

Mind & Life Videos

Francisco J. Varela Research Awards

Mind and Life Institute • September 15, 2015

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom | Mindfulness

2015 Summer Research Institute Session

Professional Development Issues in Contemplative Science

Richard J. Davidson

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science

Mind & Life Videos

Richie Davidson on Meeting the Dalai Lama

Mind and Life Institute • April 24, 2015

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom

2014

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life Institute: ISCS 2014 highlights

Mind and Life Institute • November 2, 2014

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom | Education | Mental Health

2014 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies Session

Keynote Dialogue with His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Richard J. Davidson, Amishi Jha, Arthur Zajonc

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom | Mindfulness

Audio AvailableVideo Available

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXIX – Session 1

Mind and Life Institute • April 11, 2014

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom

2014 Mind & Life Dialogue XXIX

Mapping the Mind

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom

2013

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXVII – Session 1

Mind and Life Institute • November 1, 2013

Topics: Contemplative Wisdom | Mental Health

2013 Mind & Life Dialogue XXVII

Craving, Desire, and Addiction

Topics: Contemplative Wisdom | Mental Health

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXVI – Session 3

Mind and Life Institute • January 22, 2013

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXVI – Session 1

Mind and Life Institute • January 17, 2013

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom

2012

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXV – Part 8

Mind and Life Institute • October 20, 2012

Topics: Contemplative Wisdom | Mindfulness | Stress & Resilience

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXV – Part 7

Mind and Life Institute • October 20, 2012

Topics: Contemplative Wisdom | Mindfulness | Stress & Resilience

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXV – Part 6

Mind and Life Institute • October 20, 2012

Topics: Contemplative Wisdom | Mindfulness | Stress & Resilience

2010

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XXII – Session 2

Mind and Life Institute • October 23, 2010

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XX – Session 5

Mind and Life Institute • April 11, 2010

Topics: Compassion & Empathy | Interconnection

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XX – Session 1

Mind and Life Institute • April 9, 2010

Topics: Compassion & Empathy | Interconnection

2009
2008
2007

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Mind & Life XIV – Session 4

Mind and Life Institute • April 14, 2007

Topics: Contemplative Wisdom

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XIV – Session 3

Mind and Life Institute • April 14, 2007

Topics: Contemplative Wisdom

2007 Mind & Life Dialogue XIV

The Universe in a Single Atom

Topics: Contemplative Wisdom

2005

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XIII – Session 2

Mind and Life Institute • November 8, 2005

Topics: Mental Health | Mindfulness | Stress & Resilience

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XIII – Intro, Opening Remarks, and Session 1

Mind and Life Institute • November 8, 2005

Topics: Mental Health | Mindfulness | Stress & Resilience

2004
2003

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XI – Session 4

Mind and Life Institute • September 14, 2003

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XI – Session 3

Mind and Life Institute • September 14, 2003

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XI – Session 2

Mind and Life Institute • September 14, 2003

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom

Mind & Life Videos

Mind & Life XI – Session 1

Mind and Life Institute • September 14, 2003

Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science | Contemplative Wisdom

2001
2000
1995

1995 Mind & Life Dialogue V

Altruism, Ethics, and Compassion

Topics: Compassion & Empathy

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