David Vago
Last active: 3/30/2020


David Vago is director of the Contemplative Neuroscience and Integrative Medicine (CNIM) Laboratory as part of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  He is an associate professor in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He is also a research associate in the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory (FNL), Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School. He has completed post-doctoral fellowships in neuroimaging and mind-body medicine, as well as the Stuart T. Hauser Research Training Program in Biological & Social Psychiatry.

David has previously held the position of Senior Research Coordinator for the Mind & Life Institute and is currently a Mind and Life Fellow, supporting the Mind and Life mission by advising on strategy and programs. He received his Bachelors Degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1997 from the University of Rochester. In 2005, David received his Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Sciences with a specialization in learning and memory from the department of Psychology, University of Utah. 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 and chronic pain settings?” 


The following timeline graph is generated from all co-authored publications.

Featured publications are shown below:

  1. Mindfulness-Based Blood Pressure Reduction (MB-BP): Stage 1 single-arm clinical trial. Loucks EB, Nardi WR, Gutman R, Kronish IM, Saadeh FB, Li Y, Wentz AE, Webb J, Vago DR, Harrison A, Britton WB (2019) PLoS One 14(11): e0223095
    › Primary publication · 31774807 (PubMed) · PMC6881004 (PubMed Central)
  2. The neural chronometry of threat-related attentional bias: Event-related potential (ERP) evidence for early and late stages of selective attentional processing. Gupta RS, Kujawa A, Vago DR (2019) Int J Psychophysiol : 20-42
    › Primary publication · 31605728 (PubMed) · PMC6905495 (PubMed Central)
  3. Understanding mindfulness, one moment at a time: an introduction to the special issue. Bernstein A, Vago DR, Barnhofer T (2019) Curr Opin Psychol : vi-x
    › Primary publication · 31451390 (PubMed)
  4. Mapping meditative states and stages with electrophysiology: concepts, classifications, and methods. Schoenberg P, Vago DR (2019) Curr Opin Psychol : 211-217
    › Primary publication · 30785068 (PubMed)
  5. Measuring cognitive outcomes in mindfulness-based intervention research: a reflection on confounding factors and methodological limitations. Vago DR, Gupta RS, Lazar SW (2019) Curr Opin Psychol : 143-150
    › Primary publication · 30682701 (PubMed) · PMC6597333 (PubMed Central)
  6. Future directions in meditation research: Recommendations for expanding the field of contemplative science. Vieten C, Wahbeh H, Cahn BR, MacLean K, Estrada M, Mills P, Murphy M, Shapiro S, Radin D, Josipovic Z, Presti DE, Sapiro M, Chozen Bays J, Russell P, Vago D, Travis F, Walsh R, Delorme A (2018) PLoS One 13(11): e0205740
    › Primary publication · 30403693 (PubMed) · PMC6221271 (PubMed Central)
  7. Mind the Hype: A Critical Evaluation and Prescriptive Agenda for Research on Mindfulness and Meditation. 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 (2018) Perspect Psychol Sci 13(1): 36-61
    › Primary publication · 29016274 (PubMed) · PMC5758421 (PubMed Central)
  8. Reiterated Concerns and Further Challenges for Mindfulness and Meditation Research: A Reply to Davidson and Dahl. 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 (2018) Perspect Psychol Sci 13(1): 66-69
    › Primary publication · 29016240 (PubMed) · PMC5817993 (PubMed Central)
  9. Mindfulness meditation-based pain relief: a mechanistic account. Zeidan F, Vago DR (2016) Ann N Y Acad Sci 1373(1): 114-27
    › Primary publication · 27398643 (PubMed) · PMC4941786 (PubMed Central)
  10. The brain on silent: mind wandering, mindful awareness, and states of mental tranquility. Vago DR, Zeidan F (2016) Ann N Y Acad Sci 1373(1): 96-113
    › Primary publication · 27398642 (PubMed) · PMC5866730 (PubMed Central)
  11. Experiential self-referential and selfless processing in mindfulness and mental health: Conceptual model and implicit measurement methodology. Hadash Y, Plonsker R, Vago DR, Bernstein A (2016) Psychol Assess 28(7): 856-69
    › Primary publication · 27078181 (PubMed)
  12. Frontolimbic neural circuit changes in emotional processing and inhibitory control associated with clinical improvement following transference-focused psychotherapy in borderline personality disorder. 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 (2016) Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 70(1): 51-61
    › Primary publication · 26289141 (PubMed) · PMC4718821 (PubMed Central)
  13. Altered threat and safety neural processing linked to persecutory delusions in schizophrenia: a two-task fMRI study. 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 (2015) Psychiatry Res 233(3): 352-66
    › Primary publication · 26208746 (PubMed) · PMC5003172 (PubMed Central)
  14. How Does Mindfulness Meditation Work? Proposing Mechanisms of Action From a Conceptual and Neural Perspective. Hölzel BK, Lazar SW, Gard T, Schuman-Olivier Z, Vago DR, Ott U (2011) Perspect Psychol Sci 6(6): 537-59
    › Primary publication · 26168376 (PubMed)
  15. Dynamic reflexivity in action: an armchair walkthrough of a qualitatively driven mixed-method and multiple methods study of mindfulness training in schoolchildren. Cheek J, Lipschitz DL, Abrams EM, Vago DR, Nakamura Y (2015) Qual Health Res 25(6): 751-62
    › Primary publication · 25888692 (PubMed)
  16. Moving beyond Mindfulness: Defining Equanimity as an Outcome Measure in Meditation and Contemplative Research. Desbordes G, Gard T, Hoge EA, Hölzel BK, Kerr C, Lazar SW, Olendzki A, Vago DR (2014) Mindfulness (N Y) 2014(January)
    › Primary publication · 25750687 (PubMed) · PMC4350240 (PubMed Central)
  17. A neural circuit framework for somatosensory amplification in somatoform disorders. Perez DL, Barsky AJ, Vago DR, Baslet G, Silbersweig DA (2015) J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 27(1): e40-50
    › Primary publication · 25716493 (PubMed)
  18. Potential self-regulatory mechanisms of yoga for psychological health. Gard T, Noggle JJ, Park CL, Vago DR, Wilson A (2014) Front Hum Neurosci : 770
    › Primary publication · 25368562 (PubMed) · PMC4179745 (PubMed Central)
  19. Can enlightenment be traced to specific neural correlates, cognition, or behavior? No, and (a qualified) Yes. Davis JH, Vago DR (2013) Front Psychol : 870
    › Primary publication · 24319437 (PubMed) · PMC3837242 (PubMed Central)
  20. Mapping modalities of self-awareness in mindfulness practice: a potential mechanism for clarifying habits of mind. Vago DR (2014) Ann N Y Acad Sci : 28-42
    › Primary publication · 24117699 (PubMed)
  21. Clinical applications and future directions of functional MRI. Orringer DA, Vago DR, Golby AJ (2012) Semin Neurol 32(4): 466-75
    › Primary publication · 23361489 (PubMed) · PMC3787513 (PubMed Central)
  22. Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART): a framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness. Vago DR, Silbersweig DA (2012) Front Hum Neurosci : 296
    › Primary publication · 23112770 (PubMed) · PMC3480633 (PubMed Central)
  23. Identification of neural targets for the treatment of psychiatric disorders: the role of functional neuroimaging. Vago DR, Epstein J, Catenaccio E, Stern E (2011) Neurosurg Clin N Am 22(2): 279-305, x
    › Primary publication · 21435577 (PubMed)
  24. Disruption of the direct perforant path input to the CA1 subregion of the dorsal hippocampus interferes with spatial working memory and novelty detection. Vago DR, Kesner RP (2008) Behav Brain Res 189(2): 273-83
    › Primary publication · 18313770 (PubMed) · PMC2421012 (PubMed Central)
  25. The role of the direct perforant path input to the CA1 subregion of the dorsal hippocampus in memory retention and retrieval. Vago DR, Bevan A, Kesner RP (2007) Hippocampus 17(10): 977-87
    › Primary publication · 17604347 (PubMed) · PMC3057091 (PubMed Central)
  26. Cholinergic modulation of Pavlovian fear conditioning in rats: differential effects of intrahippocampal infusion of mecamylamine and methyllycaconitine. Vago DR, Kesner RP (2007) Neurobiol Learn Mem 87(3): 441-9
    › Primary publication · 17178240 (PubMed) · PMC1951534 (PubMed Central)
  27. Time-dependent involvement of PKA/PKC in contextual memory consolidation. Wallenstein GV, Vago DR, Walberer AM (2002) Behav Brain Res 133(2): 159-64
    › Primary publication · 12110449 (PubMed)
  28. Intrahippocampal scopolamine impairs both acquisition and consolidation of contextual fear conditioning. Wallenstein GV, Vago DR (2001) Neurobiol Learn Mem 75(3): 245-52
    › Primary publication · 11300731 (PubMed)