Midlife in the United States (MIDUS Refresher 1): Neuroscience Project, 2012-2016 (ICPSR 37094)

Version Date: Sep 26, 2023 View help for published

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



Version V4 ()

  • V4 [2023-09-26]
  • V3 [2021-09-20] unpublished
  • V2 [2019-12-16] unpublished
  • V1 [2018-06-07] unpublished
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MR1P5, MIDUS Refresher 1 Neuro

The MIDUS Refresher Neuroscience Project studied 138 participants from the Refresher sample. These respondents included two distinct subsamples, all of whom completed both the Survey Project and the Biomarker Project's assessment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: the Main Refresher (n = 93) and Milwaukee Refresher (n = 45) samples.

The purpose of the Neuroscience Project is to examine the central circuitry associated with individual differences in affective style that represent a continuum from vulnerability to resilience, and to characterize the peripheral consequences of these central profiles for biological systems that may be relevant to health.

Ryff, Carol D., and Davidson, Richard J. Midlife in the United States (MIDUS Refresher 1): Neuroscience Project, 2012-2016. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2023-09-26. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR37094.v4

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging (5P01AG020166)

No geographic information is included other than for the Milwaukee cases.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

2012-10 -- 2016-08
2012-10 -- 2016-08
  1. Additional information about the Midlife in the United States study can be found at the MIDUS website.
  2. These data can be linked to the primary MIDUS Refresher studies using the variable MRID.


The primary aims of this study were to:

  1. characterize individual differences in emotional reactivity, recovery, and sustaining processes using psychophysiological measures such as corrugator and zygomatic electromyography and eyeblink startle magnitude,
  2. characterize individual differences in brain morphology and connectivity, in particular amygdala and hippocampal volume and prefrontal regional cortical thickness, using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion weighted imaging
  3. characterize individual differences in activity within the neural circuitry of emotion using task and resting state functional MRI, and
  4. test the ability of these indices to predict the comprehensive array of health, wellbeing, cognitive, psychological, social, and life challenge factors assessed in the other MIDUS projects.

To probe individual differences in emotional processes the Neuroscience Project examined both psychophysiological and fMRI measures during the presentation of negative, positive, and neutral pictures, and these same measures during a post-picture period.

Emotion-influenced memory was assessed at both the psychophysiological and imaging sessions:

  1. Free recall of the presented affective pictures at the end of the psychophysiological session.
  2. Memory and likeability ratings for neutral faces that were paired with the affective pictures in the imaging task (a neutral face was presented 2 seconds after each affective picture) as a probe of recovery processes.

The logic of this strategy is that continued activation during the recovery period following a negative stimulus is indicative of poor negative emotion regulation, whereas continued activity during the recovery period following a positive stimulus is indicative of better sustaining of positive emotional responses. Finally, the emotional processing elicited by the affective pictures can continue beyond their presentation, depending on these individual differences in affective style, resulting in affective biasing or coloring of subsequently encountered events such as the neutral faces in the imaging task.

All respondents participating in MIDUS Refresher (ICPSR 36532) or MIDUS Milwaukee Refresher (ICPSR 36722) studies who completed both Project 1 (Survey) and Project 4 (Biomarker) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were eligible to participate in the MIDUS Refresher Neuroscience assessments.

Longitudinal: Panel, Longitudinal: Trend / Repeated Cross-section

Adult non-institutionalized population in the contiguous United States aged 25-75. For the Milwaukee Refresher Sample, the adult non-institutionalized African-American population in the Milwaukee metropolitan area aged 25-64


The measures included in this collection include the following:

  • Self-reports: Participants were given various questionnaires including State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Positive Affect Negative Affect Schedule, Dispositional Positive Emotion Scale, Cube and Paper Test, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Reactivity Index
  • CANTAB Cognitive measures: The researchers used Motor Screening Test, Intra-Extra Dimensional Set Shift, Affective Go/No-go, Information Sampling Test, Attention Switching Task, Emotion Recognition Task, and Cambridge Gambling Task
  • Psychophysiology Tasks: These include Startle Eyeblink, Corrugator EMG, and Zygomaticus EMG
  • Free Recall: Participants were given up to 15 minutes to recall as many of the pictures seen during the psychophysiology task as possible by writing descriptions onto a blank sheet of paper.
  • Picture Ratings: These include Valence (Unpleasant vs. Pleasant) and Arousal (Calm vs. Excited)
  • Hearing Test: Tones of various frequencies (250, 500, 1000 Hz) were played for participants in one ear at a time. Participants indicated when they were able to hear a tone.

No information is given.

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



2023-09-26 This collection has been updated to include fully curated data files with standardized labels and an ICPSR codebook with question text.

2021-09-20 This updated dataset features around 1500 new variables that include measures of brain structure and cognitive assessment results.

2019-12-16 This collection has been updated to include fully curated data files with standardized labels and an ICPSR codebook with question text.



  • 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.

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This study is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging (NACDA), the aging program within ICPSR. NACDA is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Heath (NIH).