Sean Dae Houlihan

PhD StudentSean Dae Houlihan


PhD Student, Cognitive Science Program
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, Bridges Fellowship
University of California, Berkley (2013).

BA, Biochemistry; BA, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
University of Colorado, Boulder (2008).


Focus & Interests

  • Translational neurofeedback technologies
  • Mechanisms of cognitive control in emotion regulation


I am a PhD student in MIT's Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department working with Dr. Judson Brewer to investigate the neuroscience of meditation, peak performance, and cognitive control. My work includes building fMRI and EEG brain–computer interfaces to facilitate the training of cognitive faculties associated with meditation, including attention and emotion regulation. We are currently exploring if these types of neurofeedback can help expert practitioners hone meditation states, novice meditators improve the quality of their practices, and make the benefits of contemplative practice accessible to those struggling with cognitive maladies such as addiction. I study Mahamudra, Dzogchen and Bön with Dr. Daniel P. Brown (Harvard) in the Pointing Out Style of Indo-Tibetan meditation.

Before joining Dr. Brewer at the Center for Mindfulness, I researched the neural networks effecting empathic response with Dr. Daniela Kaufer at UC Berkeley, lead wilderness expeditions with NOLS, swam with large animals, climbed tall things, filmed avalanches from helicopters, and generally made very sure that there is nothing in the world I would rather be doing other than this work.

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