Illustration of woman's head showing neurological pathways

Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland.

He served as president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He has published more than 400 peer-reviewed papers across several disciplines including anesthesiology, biomedical engineering, critical care medicine, ergonomics, exercise physiology, gerontology, neurology, neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, psychometrics, space medicine, and substance abuse. In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders.

He is the author of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton, 2011), The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe, (Norton, 2017), co-editor of Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies (Norton, 2018) and author of Polyvagal Safety: Attachment, Communication, Self-Regulation (Norton 2021). Dr. Porges is the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol ™ (SSP), which is used by therapists to improve social engagement, language processing, and state regulation, as well as to reduce hearing sensitivities.

Scholarships & Awards

  • National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award (KO2: 7/75-12/80, 12/81-8/85)

  • Fellow, American Psychological Association (Divisions 6 and 7)

  • Charter Member, Emeritus, and Fellow, Association for Psychological Science

  • Edna Reiss – Sophie Greenberg Chair (9th annual), recognizing outstanding professionals in the field of child/adolescent mental health (2013)

  • Lifetime contribution to psychophysiology awarded by the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (2/2014)

  • B.F. Skinner Lecture to the Association of Behavioral Analysis International (5/2014)

  • Pierre Janet Plenary Address, International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (11/2013)

  • Pioneer Award, United State Association of Body Psychotherapy (11/2018)

  • Honorary Ambassador for ATTACh, Annual Childhood Trauma and Attachment Conference 2021

Professional Service

  • National Institute for Child Health and Human Development: Maternal and Child Health Research Committee (1991-1995); Chair, Maternal and Child Health Research Committee (1994-1995)

  • Society for Psychophysiological Research:
    President-Elect (1992), President (1993), Past-President (1994), Secretary‑Treasurer (1975-1978); Board of Directors (1975‑1979, 1986-1989)

  • The National Academies U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Psychological Science (2006-2009)

  • Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences (currently the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences): President (1999-2002); Past President (2003); Executive Committee (1994-1997, (2005-2006)       

ABOUT
Dr. Stephen Porges

Dr. Stephen Porges

Innovation Timeline

2021

Publication

Porges SW (2021). Polyvagal Safety: Attachment, Communication and Self-Regulation. New York: WW Norton.

2018

Patent

Patented technology embedded in the Safe and Sound Protocol. Methods and Systems for Reducing Sound Sensitivities and Improving Auditory Processing, Behavioral State Regulation and Social Engagement Behaviors. Patent Number: US 10,029,068 B2. July 24, 2018

2017

SSP Launch

Launched Safe and Sound Protocol (TM) through collaboration with Integrated Listening Systems

2011

Publication

Publication of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-Regulation (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)

2001

Publication

Conceptualization of the link between Polyvagal Theory and Oxytocin. Porges, S. W. (2001). The Polyvagal Theory: Phylogenetic substrates of a social nervous system. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 42(2), 123-146.

1996

Publication

Conceptualization of vagal brake as an indicator of social engagement. Porges, S.W., Doussard-Roosevelt, J.A., Portales, A. L., & Greenspan, S. I. (1996). Infant regulation of the vagal “brake” predicts child behavior problems: A psychobiological model of social behavior. Developmental Psychology, 29(8), 697-712.

1994

Presentation

First presentation of Polyvagal Theory in Presidential Address to the Society for Psychophysiological Research, Atlanta, GA, October 8, 1994.

1985

Patent

Patent awarded for procedures to quantify respiratory sinus arrhythmia as an index of vagal tone. Method and apparatus for Evaluating Rhythmic Oscillations in Aperiodic Physiological Response Systems. Patent number: US 4,510,944. April 16, 1985.

1972

Publication

Publication of the first study documenting the quantification of HRV as a baseline individual difference related to autonomic reactivity and reaction time. Porges, S. W. (1972). Heart rate variability and deceleration as indexes of reaction time. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 92(1), 103.

2018

Publication

Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies, with Deb Dana (Norton)

2017

Publication

Publication of The Pocket Guide to Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe (Norton)

2013

Patent

Developed device to monitor middle ear muscle status with Greg Lewis. Method and apparatus for Evaluating Dynamic Middle Ear Muscle Activity (with GF Lewis). Patent Publication number: US20130303941 A1. December 13, 2013.

2003

Publication

Conceptualization of neuroception. Porges, S.W. (2003). Social engagement and attachment: a phylogenetic perspective. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1008(1), 31-47.

1998

Publication

Conceptualization of the Social Engagement System. Porges, S.W. (1998). Love: An emergent property of the mammalian autonomic nervous system. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 23(8), 837-861.

1995

Publication

First publication describing Polyvagal Theory. Porges, S. W. (1995). Orienting in a defensive world: Mammalian modifications of our evolutionary heritage. A polyvagal theory. Psychophysiology, 32(4), 301-318.

1996

Publication

Vagal Paradox articulated - letter from a neonatologist in briefcase for several months

1976

Publication

Publication of Psychophysiology, with MGH Coles

1969

Publication

Publication of the first study documenting the quantification of HRV as a reliable autonomic response indexing attention. Porges S. W., & Raskin, D.C. (1969). Respiratory and heart rate components of attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 81(3), 497.