Photo provided by Jared Chambers

The Raison Research team seeks to use cutting edge approaches in the study of biological, psychological, and social processes to better understand how these domains impact our well-being.


Our Mission

Our mission as a research group is to discover new ways of preventing and treating depression and anxiety and to prevent and treat disorders which interfere with our optimal emotional well-being by using our bodies own strengths and capabilities.

Unlike most conceptual schemes that see major depression as a “brain disorder,” we base our work on increasing scientific literature suggesting our emotional functioning is not dependent solely on the brain.

Instead, it arises from complex interactions, stretching from the bacterial world through the social realm to the larger ecosphere in which all life is embedded.

While this type of “systems-based” perspective is gaining traction in multiple disciplines within the biological and social sciences, it is strangely absent from most current approaches aimed at developing new treatments for psychiatric disorders.

The application of systems-based thinking to psychiatric treatment positions the University of Wisconsin-Madison to rise to national prominence and make unique, clinically relevant contributions to heal and end suffering.

What We've Achieved

We are increasingly confident we have discovered a new, fast, and effective treatment for depression.

From Native American sweat lodges and Korean charcoal kilns to Japanese ofuros, traditional societies have employed hyperthermia (heat therapy) for millennia to promote emotional, physical, social and spiritual well-being. Associations between temperature and emotional state are embedded within all the world’s languages. Evidence collected suggests that, at least when it comes to depression, these associations are not just metaphorical, but rather reflect deep biological truths.

We are beginning to understand why: there is a scientific rationale for the use of Whole Body Hyperthermia in Treatment of Major Depression. We have discovered hyperthermia activates specific brain areas important for the regulation of mood and body temperature. Hyperthermia may produce antidepressant effects by enhancing these specific brain areas, while at the same time avoiding stimulation of other brain areas that produce side effects similar to antidepressant medications.

Based on these findings, we have begun a rigorous study of the antidepressant potential of Whole Body Hyperthermia that includes the use of a placebo condition designed to mimic aspects of the treatment. The goal is to help us better understand how Whole Body Hyperthermia rapidly treats depression and the impact of reduced depressive symptoms on how people behave in their daily lives.