An Interview with Richard J. Davidson, Creator of the Center for Healthy Minds

26 | 02 | 2021

Richard Davidson talks about his work as a neuroscientist and its application to the field of education.

One might say that the work of Richard J. Davidson revolves around what he calls the healthy mind. In other words, it’s the relationship between our emotions and our brains: a science of the emotional. Born in New York City in 1951, Davidson is a professor of psychology and psychiatry, and the founder of the Center for Healthy Minds, at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. It’s an initiative aimed at studying the connection between mind and body, scientifically.

A science-based analysis of emotions is a relatively novel and certainly a refreshing approach. Even recently, the health of the body and the health of the mind were imagined separately, as if they were two systems existing independently of one another. The principle of all this is known as affective neuroscience. Broadly speaking, that might be defined as the study of neural mechanisms related to our emotions, and how these affect our cognition, behaviors, and processes. It’s precisely to this whole branch of neuroscience that Dr. Davidson has dedicated his life and work. The results include hundreds of articles and 14 books.

Davidson’s research has also focused on methods for promoting well-being and personal development through contemplative tools. These include meditation and the development of skills or behaviors like mindfulness, resilience, generosity, and compassion —all of them capable of transforming people’s inner lives, and their community interactions.

In this 2015 interview, teacher Claudia Madrazo, the founder of La Vaca Independiente and the DIA Institute, spoke with Dr. Davidson about his work, and the factors neuroscience considers when talking about mental health. Finally, he discusses how discoveries like the importance of care in the learning process, and the generosity of teachers toward students, might be applied to the fields of education and teaching practice.

If you want to watch the full interview, click on this link.

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