Midlife in the United States (MIDUS 2): Neuroscience Project (ICPSR 28683)

Principal Investigator(s): Ryff, Carol D., University of Wisconsin-Madison; Davidson, Richard, University of Wisconsin-Madison


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). A description of the study and findings from it are available on the MIDUS Web site. The Neuroscience Project of MIDUS II 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, in particular amygdala and hippocampal volume, using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), (3) characterize individual differences in activity within the neural circuitry of emotion regulation using both electroencephalography and fMRI, 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 both psychophysiological and fMRI 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.

Series: Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) Series

Access Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


Midlife in the United States (MIDUS 2): Neuroscience Project - Download All Files (7.251 MB)

Study Description


Ryff, Carol D., and Richard Davidson. Midlife in the United States (MIDUS 2): Neuroscience Project. ICPSR28683-v3. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2017-11-20. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR28683.v3

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR28683.v3

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging (P01-AG020166)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    adults, emotional states, neuroscience, psychosocial assessment

Smallest Geographic Unit:    No geographic information is included other than for the Milwaukee cases.

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 2004--2009

Date of Collection:   

  • 2004-08--2009-05

Unit of Observation:    individual

Universe:    Adult noninstitutionalized population in the contiguous United States.

Data Type(s):    experimental data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

All data files in the MIDUS study (both longitudinal and cross-sectional) can be linked using a key variable called M2ID.

Currently, only the psychophysiological and behavioral data are available as the structural and fMRI data are still being processed.

The DDI codebook (PDF file) and the XML file (contained in a .zip package) released by ICPSR were provided by MIDUS and were not changed in any way by ICPSR. These original files do not reflect any of the processing done by ICPSR.

The title of this study was changed from National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS II): Neuroscience Project, to Midlife in the United States (MIDUS 2): Neuroscience Project, on May 9, 2017.


Sample:    All respondents participating in MIDUS II (ICPSR 4652) or the Milwaukee study (ICPSR 22840) who completed both Project 1 and Project 4 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were eligible to participate in the Neuroscience assessments.

Mode of Data Collection:    cognitive assessment test, self-enumerated questionnaire

Response Rates:    The response rates for each subsample were: (1) longitudinal (67.1 percent) and (2) Milwaukee (53.7 percent).

Presence of Common Scales:    DPES- Dispositional Positive Emotion Scale; PANAS- Positive and Negative Affect Schedule; RASQ- Reactivity to Affective Stimuli Quesionnaire; STXS- Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory; ERQ- Emotional Regulation Questionnaire

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2010-09-24

Version History:

  • 2017-11-20 This collection is being updated, per request from the PI, to reflect a title change; the corresponding downloadable files are only being updated to reflect the title change, where applicable.
  • 2011-10-25 The document titled DDI codebook has been renamed Codebook.

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