Astronaut with briefcase

On my way to the lab.

As an Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, I study the subjective qualities, behavioral effects, and therapeutic potential of psychedelic substances. I also study altered states often called “spiritual,” “peak,” “transformative,” “mystical” or “self-transcendent” experiences in general.

These experiences are among the most meaningful moments in many people’s lives, yet relatively little is known about how they are triggered, the neurological and physiological processes that underlie them, or how the lives of those impact those who have them.

From one perspective, my research and writing provide an empirical, 21st-century update to William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience using 1)  psychometric survey instruments, 2) computational linguistic analysis, 3) neuroimaging, 4) neurostimulation technology, and 5) psychopharmacology.

My current research focus is on the behavioral and subjective effects of classic psychedelics as well as their treatment potential.

Feel free to contact me at

Please visit The Varieties Corpus for more information about my work.

David Yaden Headshot 2020

Obligatory Bio: David Bryce Yaden, PhD is an Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine working in The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. His research focus is on the psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and psychopharmacology of spiritual, self-transcendent, and positively transformative experiences triggered with psychedelic substances and through other means. Specifically, he is interested in understanding how these experiences can result in long-term changes to well-being and how they temporarily alter fundamental faculties of consciousness such as the sense of time, space, and self. He is the editor of Rituals and Practices in World Religions: Cross-Cultural Scholarship to Inform Research and Clinical Contexts. He has a forthcoming book called The Varieties of Spiritual Experiences: Twenty-First Century Research and Perspectives for Oxford University Press. His scientific and scholarly work has been covered by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and NPR.

Please visit The Varieties Corpus

Please visit The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research