The past two decades have brought dramatic progress in the neuroscience behind anxiety due, in no small part, to animal findings specifying the neurobiology of Pavlovian fear-conditioning. This process of fear learning continues to be neurally mapped, is widely expressed in humans, and has been centrally implicated in the etiology of clinical anxiety. A major thrust of research in the ANGST laboratory includes translating recent advances in animal neuroscience to human fear-conditioning experiments and brain-based models of clinical anxiety. To this end, our lab applies a 3-stage research process:
- Behavioral and psychophysiological experiments are applied to identify specific fear-conditioning processes that operate aberrantly in the anxiety disorders
- We apply functional and structural neuroimaging techniques in healthy controls to specify the network of brain areas subserving these clinically-relevant conditioning processes
- Anxiety patients are neuroimaged to identify brain loci within this network that may drive fear-conditioning abnormalities in clinical anxiety
Through this work, we hope to contribute to the larger goal of future brain-based diagnostics and neurally targeted interventions for clinical anxiety.