Contemplative Neurosciences Research

Public Talks & Interviews

Brigham and Women's Hospital

March, 2016

Stress and Mindfulness

[Link] Now and Zen: How mindfulness can change your brain and improve your health
Dr. Vago was one of 3 Harvard scientists, including Sara Lazar and John Denninger to participate on a panel to discuss the neuroscience of meditation and mindfulness for Longwood Seminars at Harvard Medical School. This session was live tweeted #HMSMiniMed with Periscope and filmed in front of a packed crowd on the medical school campus.  Their finding: mindfulness Mindfulness can change your brain in positive ways.

April, 2016

Mindfulness TN

[Link] Dr. Vago will be participating in a scholarly meeting alongside top scientists and scholars in the field to discuss some of the latest research on mindfulness for clinical benefit. MindfulnessTN is a mindfulness-based symposium being held in Knoxville, TN on April 08, 2016 at the U.S. Cellular Stage at the historic Bijou Theatre. The goal of MindfulnessTN is to raise awareness of mindfulness meditation-based research and its impacts on health and wellbeing.

March, 2016

Mindfulness & Health at SUNY

[Link] Dr. Vago will participate as a keynote in a multi-disciplinary conference on the science of mindfulness practice along with a group of internationally recognized scholars from the sciences and clinical sciences along with leading thinkers in contemplative practice.

This initiative aims at fostering multidisciplinary research and education in mindfulness across the SUNY system and will provide a foundation for New York State to lead in the development of solutions not only for our nation’s burgeoning chronic health problems but also for global health concerns

Februrary, 2016

MD Anderson Cancer Center

[Link] Dr. Vago provides a keynote address to the MD Anderson Cancer Center community on Integrative health. His talk is entitled, “

“Mapping the Mindful Brain: Neurobiological Substrates and Clinical Relevance for a Settled Mind.”

February, 2016

Stress and Mindfulness

[Link] Dr. Vago talks to Channel 5 Boston on the benefits of mindfulness for stress.

January, 2016

Harvard Radcliffe Exploratory Seminar

[Link] Dr. Vago will be co-leading and participating in an exploratory seminar at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. As the field of contemplative science grows, there are theoretical and methodological challenges that need to be addressed through a comprehensive focus on confronting such discrepancies. A central challenge is to facilitate research initiatives that incorporate insight from across basic science, clinical science, and philosophical disciplines. This seminar assembles researchers and scholars from across such disciplines to begin a discussion for the creation of a comprehensive research initiative.

December, 2015

[Link] As part of the ongoing dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Mind and Life Institute, Dr. Vago presented his models of Self to the monastic scholars of the Sera Monastery in India and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Mind and Life XXX, which was co-organized by the Dalai Lama Trust, India, focused on contemporary scientific and Buddhist perspectives on Perception, Concepts, and Self – Western science has advanced our understanding of many foundational issues in cognition, and has expanded psychological and philosophical explorations of the mind. Among the central topics addressed in this scientific endeavor were 1) perception, 2) concept acquisition, the nature of conceptual thought, and the role of language in cognition, and 3) the origins and content of our sense of self. You can read about the event here [Link]

November, 2015

Redesign My Brain 2

[Link] Dr. Vago and Dr. Fadel Zeidan are interviewed about the benefits of meditation in the context of pain and managing stress by Todd Sampson for the Discovery Channel series – Redesign My Brain.

Redesign My Brain 2 (mindfulness clip)

November, 2015

Neurosciences Interdisciplinary Retreat

[Link] Dr. Vago participated in the 3d annual Neurosciences Interdisciplinary Mini-Retreat and Poster Session at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. The purpose of this retreat is to provide a forum for BWH neuroscience investigators to showcase their research, expertise, and interests, and to encourage networking and new collaborations. This retreat is open to all investigators at BWH whose work relates to the nervous system.

September, 2015

Advances in Meditation 2015

[Link] Dr. Vago will be participating in the 2nd conference on Advances in Meditation Research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. The conference will also be covered by a special issue of the New York Academy of Sciences. The AMR conference series was created to advance the growing interdisciplinary science that explores the neural correlates and associated psychological and clinical applications relevant to the practice of meditation in its many forms. It is the hope that through such investigation, contemplative practices that include meditation can be safely and efficiently translated into healthcare management and education, as supported by rigorous research.

June, 2015

Mindfulness & Compassion Conference

[Link] Dr. Vago will participate as a keynote in a multi-disciplinary conference on the science of contemplative practice along with a group of internationally recognized scholars from the sciences and humanities along with leading thinkers in contemplative practice. Other featured speakers include Dr. Josephine Briggs (Director of the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), Robert Thurman (Columbia University), Venerable Ajahn Amaro (abbot of the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery), Willoughby Britton (Brown), Clifford Saron (UC Davis), Geoffrey Samuel (Sydney University), Eijun Linda Cutts (San Francisco Zen Center), Gregory Kramer (Insight Dialogue), and many more.

May, 2015

Mind-Body Medicine & Cardiovascular Health

[Link] Dr. Vago will be taking part in a Mind-Body-Medicine seminar on May 1st, disucssing the relevance of his work to Cardiovascular Health. The course is organized by the Osher Institue in partnership with the Benson-Henry Institute. The course will provide an overview of resilience-enhancing interventions to use with patients. These mind body approaches have been proven to significantly improve health and quality of life for those with illnesses that are caused or made worse by stress, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, pain and fatigue syndromes, mood disorders and many others.

April, 2015

Grand Rounds Talk

[Link] Dr. Vago is presenting his research on mindfulness and meditation and its clinical relevance at Grand Rounds, Bridgeport Hospital, department of Pediatrics on April, 15th.

April, 2015

Aging Succesfully - MIT

[Link] Dr. Vago will participate in a panel discussion at MIT on “Aging Successfully” along with MIT media lab faculty, Joichi “Joi” Ito and Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi, Founding Director of MIT’s Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values.

April, 2015

BrainWave Series at the Rubin Museum

[Link] Dr. Vago took part in the BrainWave series at the Rubin museum in a discussion with Scott Carney concerning his new book, A Death on Diamond Mountain. The talk went into depth on ideas and experience of spiritual bypassing, spiritual materialism, obsession with spirituality.

April, 2015

Yoga for Self-regulation (Boston Globe)

[Link] Dr. Vago was interviewed in a piece on the benefits of yoga for stress in the Boston Globe. This interview cites a new publication where Dr. Vago is a principle author describing the mechanisms by which yoga facilitates self-regulation. That paper can be found [HERE]

March, 2015

Medicine, Religion, and Spirituality Conference

[Link] Dr. Vago participated in a panel with David Silbersweig, M.D., John Peteet, M.D., and Sonia Matwin, Ph.D. on the experience of spirituality in medicine. This panel provided a contemporary, interdisciplinary perspective on timeless and timely issue of the human brain-mind in health/flourishing and disease, in the context of religion and spirituality.

MARCH 2015

Dr. Vago spoke to an audience about the neuroscience of meditation before a screening of “Free the Mind” at Real Art Ways, in Hartford, CT

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Dr. Vago participated in a symposium on Integrative Medicine sponsored by the Osher Institute. Coverage from HERE [Link]


Dr. Vago participated in a symposium on: EMPATHY, CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE AND PEDAGOGY, THE HUMANITIES, AND THE SCIENCES [Link]. He spoke about how contemplative practices can influence the neurobiology of self processing.


A Dialogue with Lisa Dale-Miller, LMFT on the Clinical Relevance of Awakening Part One

Listen to the mp3 recording (or watch the video above)

This first of Part Two’s three videos focuses on S-ART, Dr. Vago’s neurobiological framework for describing the effects of mindfulness-based meditation practices on self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence. Covered topics include: Perception and distorted self-perception; clarity and insight; reducing mental and emotional suffering.

The second of Part Two’s three videos covers Theravada, Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna notions of awakening and not-self; secular mental training; different interventions for different personality characteristics; selflessness/emptiness in psychotherapy; translating the dharma into neuropsychological terms, vedanā (craving and aversion); decentering.

JUNE 2014

Dr. Vago and colleague, Jake Davis spoke with Buddhist Geeks on the Neuroscience of Enlightenment. Here is the [LINK] (part I) and [LINK] (part II) with transcript

MARCH 2014

Dr. Vago dialogued with Russel Simmons at the Rubin Museum on the Science of Meditation and its benefits as part of the BrainWave series. Russell Simmons, the entrepreneur and co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and Def Comedy Jam, claims meditation can help you live a calmer, healthier, more mindful, spiritual and successful life. [Link] to the event. [Facebook] and [Link] to the pictures.


Drs. Sara Lazar and David Vago spoke with Ted Meissner on the Present Moment – Mindfulness Practice & Science Podcast about their recent collaborative position article on Equanimity. Listen HERE. The paper on equanimity can be found HERE. This paper discussing the need for mindfulness research to investigate the construct of equanimity and offers ways to operationalize it for research purposes. This position paper was a collaboration amongst a group of contemplative scientists known as the “New England Contemplative Science Working Group”


Dr. Vago presented his preliminary findings along with Shinzen Young, the Buddhist Contemplative at the Buddhist Geeks Conference. They spoke about Dr. Vago’s Mapping the Meditative Mind initiative and collaboration using Shinzen’s Basic Mindfulness System. See the write-up about it here [Link]

JULY 2013

Dr. Vago was interviewed by Vincent Horn for Buddhist Geeks. In this episode, David relates how his personal mindfulness practice has integrated with his professional scientific research. He talks about the thriving community of scientists interested in mindfulness that has taken root in contemporary academia and research, and he highlights some current projects and lines of inquiry that have benefited from this uniquely supportive atmosphere.[Link]


Dr. Vago presented his research at the Advances in Meditation Research Meeting that took place at the New York Academy of Sciences. A special Annals will be published early 2014 on the proceedings of this conference.


Dr. Vago, along with co-author David Silbersweig, published the S-ART(self-awareness, self-reguation, and self-transcendence) framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness. It can be found in the special issue on the neural mechanisms of mindfulness in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience [Link]. Dr. Vago talks about the model on the Contemplative Mind in Life Bog [Link]. The lay press for this theoretical framework can be found at: Psych Central [Link],Brigham & Women’s Hospital [Link], Science Daily [Link], Medical Express [Link], and World Economic Forum [Link]. Dr. Vago speaks to the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy community. The audio can be found below


Dr. Vago also presented the S-ART framework to the 23rd Annual Trauma Conference and at the 2014 Kluge Research Symposium at the Center for Mindfulness 12th Annual International Scientific Conference.

APRIL 2012

Dr. Vago was one of 6 scientists selected to present his research to His Holiness The Dalai Lama for the Mind and Life Institute XXIV dialogue, “Latest Findings in Contemplative Neuroscience”. Brochure linked HERE. Dr. Vago presented his work on theoretical and conceptual models for meditation practices that cultivate mindfulness. He blogs about his experience here: [Link] and the meeting was reported on here: [Link]. The Brigham & Women’s Hospital featured the story here [Link].


Dr. Vago was a contributing author to the recent publication in Perspectives of Psychological Science outlining specific mechanisms of mindfulness. There was some press in the association for psychological science (APS) [Link], Psych Central: “Meditation improves quality of life” [Link], in the Huffington Post: “Why Mindfulness Meditation makes us healthier” [Link], and Boston Globe: “Brain Gain” [Link].


Dr. Vago participated in a dialogue with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, and Dr. Robert Roeser, developmental psychologist and educator entitled, “Sustainable Happiness: A dialogue between science and contemplative wisdom” at Portland State University, sponsored by Tergar International. [Link]


MAY 2010

Dr. Vago participated in a panel discussion entitled, “Happiness and the Brain” on the Toronto-based television program, “The Agenda with Steve Paikin.”The discussion included coverage of affective neuroscience, the neural correlates of happiness and the benefits of Buddhist mental training exercises such as mindfulness meditation.


MSN Health reported on a study conducted on women diagnosed with Fibromyalgia by David Vago. The study investigated the effects of mindfulness training on attentional bias to pain-related threat [Link]


APRIL 2012

Dr. Vago blogged for the MLI XVIII meeting in Dharamsala (Attention, Memory and the Mind: A Synergy of Psychological, Neuroscientific, and Contemplative Perspectives).

APRIL 2012

Fadel Zeidan and David Vago participated in a discussion on National Public Radiio (NPR) affiliate in Charlotte, NC – WFAE 90.7 discussing the effects of meditation and contemplative practice on pain. Listen HERE. Charlotte Blogs about it HERE.

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