David R. Vago, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

david.vago@vanderbilt.edu

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Faculty Appointments
Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Education
Ph.D., Cognition and Neural Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UtahM.S., Cognition and Neural Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UtahB.A., Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York
Office Address
Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
3401 West End Ave, suite 380
Nashville, TN 37203
Research Description
Dr. Vago’s research interests broadly focus on utilizing translational models to identify and characterize neurobiological substrates mediating psychopathology, to better predict outcomes and potential biologically-based diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for those suffering with mental illness and chronic pain. Through mixed research methods of systems biology, neuroimaging, predictive computational modeling, connectomics, genomic and neuroendocrine science, innovation, cognitive-behavioral and first-person phenomenological analyses, Dr. Vago focuses on one basic question – “What are the basic neurobiological and physiological components that constitute adaptive mind-brain-body interactions and their therapeutic relevance in psychiatric settings?” Dr. Vago has a number of research initiatives that are ongoing, including Mapping the Meditative Mind, in which he has partnered with contemporary meditation teachers and scholars to investigate states of meditation across the spectrum of formal meditative expertise. Another initiative leverages innovation to optimize contemporary tools for electronic delivery of integrative medicine and utilize neurofeedback for patient-centered mental training.
Research Keywords
neuropsychiatry, depression, PTSD, anxiety, stress, psychopathology, neuroimaging, meditation, mindfulness, contemplative neuroscience, integrative medicine, learning, memory, affective neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience
Publications
Van Dam NT, van Vugt MK, Vago DR, Schmalzl L, Saron CD, Olendzki A, Meissner T, Lazar SW, Kerr CE, Gorchov J, Fox KCR, Field BA, Britton WB, Brefczynski-Lewis JA, Meyer DE. Mind the Hype: A Critical Evaluation and Prescriptive Agenda for Research on Mindfulness and Meditation. Perspect Psychol Sci [print-electronic]. 2017 Sep 9/1/2017; 1745691617709589. PMID: 29016274, DOI: 10.1177/1745691617709589, ISSN: 1745-6924.

Van Dam NT, van Vugt MK, Vago DR, Schmalzl L, Saron CD, Olendzki A, Meissner T, Lazar SW, Gorchov J, Fox KCR, Field BA, Britton WB, Brefczynski-Lewis JA, Meyer DE. Reiterated Concerns and Further Challenges for Mindfulness and Meditation Research: A Reply to Davidson and Dahl. Perspect Psychol Sci [print-electronic]. 2017 Sep 9/1/2017; 1745691617727529. PMID: 29016240, DOI: 10.1177/1745691617727529, ISSN: 1745-6924.

Hadash Y, Plonsker R, Vago DR, Bernstein A. Experiential self-referential and selfless processing in mindfulness and mental health: Conceptual model and implicit measurement methodology. Psychol Assess [print-electronic]. 2016 Jul; 28(7): 856-69. PMID: 27078181, PII: 2016-17962-001, DOI: 10.1037/pas0000300, ISSN: 1939-134X.

Zeidan F, Vago DR. Mindfulness meditation-based pain relief: a mechanistic account. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 2016 Jun; 1373(1): 114-27. PMID: 27398643, PMCID: PMC4941786, DOI: 10.1111/nyas.13153, ISSN: 1749-6632.

Vago DR, Zeidan F. The brain on silent: mind wandering, mindful awareness, and states of mental tranquility. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 2016 Jun; 1373(1): 96-113. PMID: 27398642, DOI: 10.1111/nyas.13171, ISSN: 1749-6632.

Perez DL, Vago DR, Pan H, Root J, Tuescher O, Fuchs BH, Leung L, Epstein J, Cain NM, Clarkin JF, Lenzenweger MF, Kernberg OF, Levy KN, Silbersweig DA, Stern E. Frontolimbic neural circuit changes in emotional processing and inhibitory control associated with clinical improvement following transference-focused psychotherapy in borderline personality disorder. Psychiatry Clin. Neurosci [print-electronic]. 2016 Jan; 70(1): 51-61. PMID: 26289141, PMCID: PMC4718821, DOI: 10.1111/pcn.12357, ISSN: 1440-1819.

Perez DL, Pan H, Weisholtz DS, Root JC, Tuescher O, Fischer DB, Butler T, Vago DR, Isenberg N, Epstein J, Landa Y, Smith TE, Savitz AJ, Silbersweig DA, Stern E. Altered threat and safety neural processing linked to persecutory delusions in schizophrenia: a two-task fMRI study. Psychiatry Res [print-electronic]. 2015 Sep 9/30/2015; 233(3): 352-66. PMID: 26208746, PMCID: PMC5003172, PII: S0925-4927(15)30009-3, DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2015.06.002, ISSN: 1872-7123.

Cheek J, Lipschitz DL, Abrams EM, Vago DR, Nakamura Y. Dynamic reflexivity in action: an armchair walkthrough of a qualitatively driven mixed-method and multiple methods study of mindfulness training in schoolchildren. Qual Health Res [print-electronic]. 2015 Jun; 25(6): 751-62. PMID: 25888692, PII: 1049732315582022, DOI: 10.1177/1049732315582022, ISSN: 1049-7323.

Perez DL, Barsky AJ, Vago DR, Baslet G, Silbersweig DA. A neural circuit framework for somatosensory amplification in somatoform disorders. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci [print-electronic]. 2015; 27(1): e40-50. PMID: 25716493, DOI: 10.1176/appi.neuropsych.13070170, ISSN: 1545-7222.

Desbordes G, Gard T, Hoge EA, Hölzel BK, Kerr C, Lazar SW, Olendzki A, Vago DR. Moving beyond Mindfulness: Defining Equanimity as an Outcome Measure in Meditation and Contemplative Research. Mindfulness (N Y). 2014 Jan 1/21/2014; 2014(January): PMID: 25750687, PMCID: PMC4350240, DOI: 10.1007/s12671-013-0269-8, ISSN: 1868-8527.

Gard T, Noggle JJ, Park CL, Vago DR, Wilson A. Potential self-regulatory mechanisms of yoga for psychological health. Front Hum Neurosci. 2014; 8: 770. PMID: 25368562, PMCID: PMC4179745, DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00770.

Vago DR. Mapping modalities of self-awareness in mindfulness practice: a potential mechanism for clarifying habits of mind. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci [print-electronic]. 2014 Jan; 1307: 28-42. PMID: 24117699, DOI: 10.1111/nyas.12270, ISSN: 1749-6632.

Davis JH, Vago DR. Can enlightenment be traced to specific neural correlates, cognition, or behavior? No, and (a qualified) Yes. Front Psychol. 2013; 4: 870. PMID: 24319437, PMCID: PMC3837242, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00870.

Orringer DA, Vago DR, Golby AJ. Clinical applications and future directions of functional MRI. Semin Neurol [print-electronic]. 2012 Sep; 32(4): 466-75. PMID: 23361489, PMCID: PMC3787513, DOI: 10.1055/s-0032-1331816, ISSN: 1098-9021.

Vago DR, Silbersweig DA. Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART): a framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness. Front Hum Neurosci. 2012; 6: 296. PMID: 23112770, PMCID: PMC3480633, DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00296, ISSN: 1662-5161.

Contemplative practices and mental training: Prospects for American Education. Child Development Perspectives. 2012; 6(2): 146-53.

Hölzel BK, Lazar SW, Gard T, Schuman-Olivier Z, Vago DR, Ott U. How Does Mindfulness Meditation Work? Proposing Mechanisms of Action From a Conceptual and Neural Perspective. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2011 Nov; 6(6): 537-59. PMID: 26168376, PII: 6/6/537, DOI: 10.1177/1745691611419671, ISSN: 1745-6916.

Vago David R, Nakamura Yoshio. Increased Selective Attention Towards Pain-related Threat in Fibromyalgia: Preliminary Evidence for Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training. Cognitive Therapy and Research. 2011 Sep; 35(6): 581-94. DOI: 10.1007/s10608-011-9391-x.

Vago DR, Epstein J, Catenaccio E, Stern E. Identification of neural targets for the treatment of psychiatric disorders: the role of functional neuroimaging. Neurosurg. Clin. N. Am. 2011 Apr; 22(2): 279-305, x. PMID: 21435577, PII: S1042-3680(11)00004-0, DOI: 10.1016/j.nec.2011.01.003, ISSN: 1558-1349.

Vago DR, Kesner RP. Disruption of the direct perforant path input to the CA1 subregion of the dorsal hippocampus interferes with spatial working memory and novelty detection. Behav. Brain Res [print-electronic]. 2008 Jun 6/3/2008; 189(2): 273-83. PMID: 18313770, PMCID: PMC2421012, PII: S0166-4328(08)00026-0, DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.01.002, ISSN: 0166-4328.

Vago DR, Kesner RP. Cholinergic modulation of Pavlovian fear conditioning in rats: differential effects of intrahippocampal infusion of mecamylamine and methyllycaconitine. Neurobiol Learn Mem [print-electronic]. 2007 Mar; 87(3): 441-9. PMID: 17178240, PMCID: PMC1951534, PII: S1074-7427(06)00157-2, DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2006.11.001, ISSN: 1074-7427.

Vago DR, Bevan A, Kesner RP. The role of the direct perforant path input to the CA1 subregion of the dorsal hippocampus in memory retention and retrieval. Hippocampus. 2007; 17(10): 977-87. PMID: 17604347, PMCID: PMC3057091, DOI: 10.1002/hipo.20329, ISSN: 1050-9631.

Wallenstein GV, Vago DR, Walberer AM. Time-dependent involvement of PKA/PKC in contextual memory consolidation. Behav. Brain Res. 2002 Jul 7/18/2002; 133(2): 159-64. PMID: 12110449, PII: S0166432801004764, ISSN: 0166-4328.

Wallenstein GV, Vago DR. Intrahippocampal scopolamine impairs both acquisition and consolidation of contextual fear conditioning. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2001 May; 75(3): 245-52. PMID: 11300731, PII: S1074-7427(01)94005-5, DOI: 10.1006/nlme.2001.4005, ISSN: 1074-7427.

Available Postdoctoral Position Details
Posted Position
3/23/2017

Post-doctoral Fellow in Contemplative Neuroscience and Integrative Medicine

The Contemplative Neuroscience and Integrative Medicine lab (CNIM) at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center invites applications for a post-doctoral research fellowship with a focus on basic and translational science.

The mission of The Osher center's new CNIM research laboratory is to alleviate suffering and improve well-being through rigorous investigation of the mind. Under the direction of David Vago, PhD, the CNIM utilizes a translational approach to identify and characterize neurobiological substrates mediating psychopathology, to better predict outcomes and clarify potential biologically-based diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for those suffering with mental illness and chronic pain. This is an exciting opportunity to contribute your technical expertise and creativity to innovative research projects in a collaborative, multi-disciplinary environment and to gain experience in patient-centered research using psychological, first-person phenomenological, cognitive-behavioral, genomic, neuroendocrine, physiological (e.g., EEG, EMG, ECG, HR, BP, pupillary, skin conductance) and multimodal (e.g., fMRI, MRI, DTI, MRS, EEG-fMRI) brain imaging techniques. The successful candidate will have access to state-of-the-art brain imaging and computational facilities at the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS), the VU Brain Institute, the largest DNA databank (BioVU) in the world, and Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR) in order to carry out high-impact multi-disciplinary research and development of innovative mental health applications. Access to de-identified medical record information and data associated with participation in integrative medicine therapies is also available from Bravenet, the nation's largest practice-based integrative medicine research network across 19 collaborative institutions. The successful candidate will work closely with our expert team of clinicians and research staff, neuroimaging faculty, and collaborators across the Vanderbilt University campus to contribute to the rigorous investigation of mind-brain-body interactions and their therapeutic relevance in health care settings. The post-doctoral fellow will be expected to contribute to ongoing projects and to develop an independent line of research. Mentorship, training, and professional development opportunities will be provided to facilitate the fellow's future career in academic, research, or industry settings with expertise in affective neuroscience, the science of meditation and integrative medicine.

We are seeking a candidate with the following qualifications/experience:

A PhD and relevant research experience in cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience, brain network modeling, or related fields. Experimental paradigm design/implementation (e.g., E-Prime, Presentation, PsychoPy, etc.),

Psychophysiological experimentation (e.g., Startle-blink, skin conductance, etc.)

Neuroimaging analyses (e.g., GLM, MVPA, ICA, functional and anatomical connectivity/morphometry; spectral/frequency analyses, source localization, ERP analyses)

Computational methods and programming/scripting skills used in neuroimaging (e.g., Matlab, C/C++, Python, AFNI, FSL, SPM, Freesurfer).

Exceptional skills in experimental design, quantitative methods, statistical modeling, and the ability to carry out independent data entry and statistical analyses using standard software packages (e.g., SPSS, SAS, R) are particularly desirable.

Solid mastery of written English and show evidence of peer-reviewed publications.

Candidate must be eligible to work in United States.

We offer a competitive salary that is commensurate on experience plus full benefits. Start date as soon as possible.

This is a 1-3 year full-time position that depends upon leveraging future funding and performance. Please email a CV, statement of research interests and relevant background, and names of three referees to Dr. David Vago at david.vago@vanderbilt.edu





3/23/2017

Research Data Analyst - Neuroimaging & Meditation

Osher Center for Integrative Medicine – The Contemplative Neuroscience and Integrative Medicine lab (CNIM) at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center invites applications for a data analyst position. The appointment is for 1-3 years with the possibility to establish an independent program and a faculty appointment at VUMC

The mission of The Osher center's new CNIM research laboratory is to alleviate suffering and improve well-being through rigorous investigation of the mind. Under the direction of David Vago, PhD, the CNIM utilizes a translational approach to identify and characterize neurobiological substrates mediating psychopathology, to better predict outcomes and clarify potential biologically-based diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for those suffering with mental illness and chronic pain. This is an exciting opportunity to contribute your technical expertise and creativity to innovative research projects in a collaborative, multi-disciplinary environment and to gain experience in patient-centered research using psychological, first-person phenomenological, cognitive-behavioral, genomic, neuroendocrine, physiological (e.g., EEG, EMG, ECG, HR, BP, pupillary, skin conductance) and multimodal (e.g., fMRI, MRI, DTI, MRS, EEG-fMRI) brain imaging techniques. The successful candidate will have access to state-of-the-art brain imaging and computational facilities at the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS), the VU Brain Institute, the largest DNA databank (BioVU) in the world, and Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR) in order to carry out high-impact multi-disciplinary research and development of innovative mental health applications. Access to de-identified medical record information and data associated with participation in integrative medicine therapies is also available from Bravenet, the nation's largest practice-based integrative medicine research network across 19 collaborative institutions. The successful candidate will work closely with our expert team of clinicians and research staff, neuroimaging faculty, and collaborators across the Vanderbilt University campus to contribute to the rigorous investigation of mind-brain-body interactions and their therapeutic relevance in health care settings. The successful candidate will be expected to contribute to ongoing projects and to develop an independent line of research. Mentorship, training, and professional development opportunities will be provided to facilitate the fellow's future career in academic, research, or industry settings with expertise in affective neuroscience, the science of meditation and integrative medicine.

We are seeking a candidate with the following qualifications/experience:

A PhD and relevant research experience in cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience, brain network modeling, biostatistics, bioinformatics, or related fields.

Experimental paradigm design/implementation (e.g., E-Prime, Presentation, PsychoPy, etc.), Psychophysiological experimentation (e.g., Startle-blink, skin conductance, etc.) Neuroimaging analyses (e.g., GLM, MVPA, ICA, functional and anatomical connectivity/morphometry) using both BOLD and ASL. Computational methods and programming/scripting skills used in neuroimaging (e.g., Matlab, C/C++, Python, AFNI, FSL, SPM, Freesurfer).

Exceptional skills in experimental design, quantitative methods, statistical modeling, and the ability to carry out independent data entry and statistical analyses using standard software packages (e.g., SPSS, SAS, R) are particularly desirable.

Solid mastery of written English and show evidence of peer-reviewed publications.

Candidate must be eligible to work in United States.

We offer a competitive salary that is commensurate on experience plus full benefits. Start date as soon as possible. This is a 1-3 year full-time position that depends upon leveraging future funding and performance. Please email a CV, statement of research interests and relevant background, and names of three referees to Dr. David Vago at david.vago@vanderbilt.eduResearch Data Analyst - Neuroimaging & Meditation