Dr Shmuel Lissek

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Dept of Psychology
N218 Elliott Hall

75 E River Rd


What happens in the human brain and body during fear-related learning, memory, and decision making? What aberrancies in these psychobiological processes are associated with the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms of clinical anxiety? These questions of central interest are addressed using neuroimaging, psychophysiologic, pharmacologic, and behavioral assays of classical and operant fear-conditioning. The cross-species nature of this conditioning approach brings to bear a wealth of animal data with which to elucidate the neurobiology of fear and behavioral avoidance in the human instance. Specific areas of interest include: 1) the generalization of conditioned fear to stimuli resembling the learned danger-cue as a pathogenic marker of PTSD, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder; 2) the neurobiology, psychophysiology, and pharmacologic-modifiability of conditioned fear generalization; 3) the conditioning-dependent plasticity in neural representations of learned danger-cues that may subserve the generalization process; and 4) the psychobiologic substrates of classically conditioned fear as predictors of operant avoidance.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • B.A.: Columbia University, 1995.
  • Ph.D.: St. John's University, 2002.

Curriculum Vitae

Courses Taught
  • Introduction to Abnormal Psychology (PSY 3604)
  • Brain and Emotion (PSY 5064)
  • Graduate Seminar on Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Ethics (PSY 5960)
  • Lissek, S., Bradford, D.E., Alvarez, R.P., Burton, P., Espensen-Sturges, T., Reynolds, R.C., and Grillon, C. (in press). Neural substrates of classically conditioned fear-generalization in humans: A parametric fMRI study. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
  • Lissek, S., Kaczkurkin, A.N., Rabin, S., Geraci, M., Pine, D.S., and Grillon, C. (in press). Generalized anxiety disorder is associated with overgeneralization of classically conditioned-fear. Biological Psychiatry.
  • Van Meurs, B., Wiggert, N., Wicker, I., Lissek, S. (in press). Maladaptive behavioral consequences of conditioned fear-generalization: A pronounced, yet sparsely studied, feature of anxiety pathology. Behaviour Research and Therapy.
  • Britton, J., Grillon, C., Lissek, S., Norcross, M.A., Szuhany, K.L., Chen, G., Ernst, M., Nelson, E.E., Leibenluft, E., Shechner, T., Pine, D.S. (2013). Response to learned threat: an fMRI study in adolescent and adult anxiety. American Journal of Psychiatry, 170, 1195-1204.
  • Kaczkurkin, A.N, Lissek, S. (2013). Generalization of conditioned fear in individuals with high and low obsessive-compulsive traits. Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy. S7: 003.
  • Lissek, S. (2012). Toward an account of clinical anxiety predicated on basic, neurally mapped mechanisms of Pavlovian fear-learning. Depression and Anxiety.
  • Lissek S. & Grillon C. (2012). Conditioning models of PTSD. The Oxford handbook of traumatic disorders.
  • Glenn, C. R., Klein, D. N., Lissek, S., Britton, J. C., Pine, D. S., & Hajcak, G. (2012). The development of fear learning and generalization in 8 to 13 year-olds. Developmental Psychobiology,
  • Haddad,. A.D., Lissek, S., Pine, D.S., Lau, J.Y. (2011). How do social fears in adolescence develop? Fear conditioning shapes attention orienting to social threat cues. Cognition and Emotion, 25, 1139-1147.
  • Cornwell, B.R., Alvarez, R.P., Lissek, S., Kaplan, R., Ernst, M., Grillon, C. (2011). Anxiety overrides the blocking effects of high perceptual load on amygdala reactivity to threat-related distractors. Neuropsychologia, 49, 1363-1368.
  • Lau, J.Y.F., Nelson, E.E., Angold, A., Britton, J., Ernst, M., Goldwin, M., Grillon, C., Lissek, S., Shiffrin, N., Pine, D.S. (2011). Distinct neural signatures of threat learning in adolescents and adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 4500-4505.
  • Britton, J.C., Lissek, S., Grillon, C., Norcross, M.A., & Pine, D.S. (2011). Development of anxiety: The role of threat appraisal and fear learning. Depression and Anxiety, 28, 5-17.
  • Hakamata, Y., Lissek, S., Bar-Haim, Y., Britton, J.C., Fox, N., Leibenluft, E., Ernst, M., & Pine, D.S. (2010). Attention Bias Modification Treatment: A meta-analysis towards the establishment of novel treatment for anxiety. Biological Psychiatry, 68, 982-990.
  • Lissek S. & Grillon C. (2010). Overgeneralization of conditioned fear in the anxiety disorders: Putative memorial mechanisms. Journal of Psychology, 218, 146-148.
  • Lissek, S., Rabin, S.J., Heller, R.E., Luckenbaugh, D., Geraci, M., Pine, D.S., & Grillon, C. (2010). Overgeneralization of conditioned fear as a pathogenic marker of panic disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 167, 47-55.
  • Lissek, S., Rabin, S. J., McDowell, D.J., Dvir, S., Bradford, D. E., Geraci, M., Pine, D.S., & Grillon, C. (2009). Impaired discriminative fear-conditioning resulting from elevated fear-responding to learned safety cues among individuals with panic disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 47, 111-118.
  • Grillon, C., Pine, D.S., Lissek, S., Rabin, S., & Vythilingam, M. (2009). Increased anxiety during anticipation of unpredictable aversive stimuli in posttraumatic stress disorder but not in generalized anxiety disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 66, 47-53.
  • Lissek, S., Levenson, J., Biggs, A., Johnson, L., Ameli, R., Pine, D.S., & Grillon, C. (2008). Social anxiety disorder is associated with elevated fear-conditioning to socially relevant unconditioned stimuli. American Journal of Psychiatry, 165, 124-32.
  • Lissek, S., Biggs, A.L., Rabin, S., Cornwell, B.R., Alvarez, R.P., Pine, D.S., & Grillon, C. (2008). Generalization of conditioned fear-potentiated startle in humans: Experimental validation and clinical relevance. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 46, 678-87.
  • Grillon, C., Lissek, S., Rabin, S., McDowell, D., Dvir, S., & Pine, D.S. (2008). Increased anxiety during anticipation of unpredictable but not predictable aversive stimuli as a psychophysiologic marker of panic disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 165, 898-904.
  • Lissek, S., Pine, D.S., & Grillon, C. (2006). The strong situation: A potential impediment to studying the psychobiology and pharmacology of anxiety disorders. Biological Psychology, 72, 265-270.
  • Lissek, S., Baas, J.M.P., Pine, D., Orme, K., Dvir, S., Rosenberger, E., & Grillon, C. (2005). Sensation seeking and the aversive motivational system. Emotion, 5, 396-407.
  • Lissek, S. & Powers, A.S. (2003). Sensation seeking and startle modulation by physically threatening images. Biological Psychology, 63, 179-97.
  • Haddad, A.D.M., Pritchett, D., Lissek, S., Lau, J.Y.F. (in press). Trait Anxiety and Fear Responses to Safety Cues: Stimulus Generalization or Sensitization? Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment.
  • Powers, A.S., Hogue, P., Lynch, C., Gattuso, B., Lissek, S., & Nayal, C. (2009). Role of acetylcholine in negative patterning in turtles (Chrysemys picta). Behavioral Neuroscience, 123, 804-809.
  • Reeb, B.C., Helfinstein, S.M., Perez-Edgar, K., Henderson, H.A., Lissek, S., Grillon, C., Pine, D.S., & Fox, N.A. (2009). Startle response in behaviorally inhibited adolescents with a lifetime occurrence of anxiety disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48, 610-617.
  • Lau, J.Y.F., Lissek, S., Nelson, E., Lee, Y., Roberson-Nay, R., Poeth, K., Jenness, J., Ernst, M., Grillon, C., & Pine, D.S. (2008). Fear conditioning in adolescents with anxiety disorders: Results from a novel experimental paradigm. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatr, 47, 94-102.
  • Lissek, S., Orme, K., McDowell, D.J., Johnson, L.L., Luckenbaugh, D., & Grillon, C. (2007). Emotion regulation and potentiated startle across affective picture and threat of shock paradigms. Biological Psychology, 76, 124-133.
  • Kaczkurkin, A.N, Lissek, S. (in press). Generalization of conditioned fear in individuals with high and low obsessive-compulsive traits. Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy.
  • Cornwell, B.R., Baas, J.M.P., Johnson, L., Holroyd, T., Carver, F., Mitchell-Francis, J., Lissek, S., & Grillon, C. (2007). Neural responses to auditory stimulus deviance under threat of electric shock revealed by spatially-filtered magnetoencephalography. NeuroImage, 37, 282-289.
  • Grillon C, Lissek S, McDowell D, Levenson J, & Pine DS (2007). Reduction of trace but not delay eyeblink conditioning in panic disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164, 283-289.
  • Grillon, C., Baas, J.M.P., Pine, D. S., Lissek, S., Lawley, M., Ellis, V., & Levine, J. (2006). The benzodiazepine alprazolam dissociates contextual fear from cued fear in humans as assessed by fear-potentiated startle. Biological Psychiatry, 60, 760-766.
  • Lissek, S., Powers, A.S., McClure, E.B., Phelps, E.A., Woldehawariat, G., Grillon, C., & Pine, D.S. (2005). Classical fear-conditioning in the anxiety disorders: A meta-analysis. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 43, 1391-1424.
  • Lissek, S., Baas, J.M.P., Pine, D.S., Orme, K., Dvir, S., Nugent, M., Rosenberger, E., Rawson, E., & Grillon, C. (2005). Airpuff startle probes: An efficacious and less aversive alternative to white-noise. Biological Psychology, 68, 283-297.
  • Hasler, G., Lissek, S., Ajdacic,V., Milos, G., Gamma, A., Eich, D., Rí¶ssler, W., & Angst, J. (2005). Major depression predicts an increase in long-term body weight variability in young adults: A twenty year prospective community study. Obesity Research, 13, 1991-8.
  • Pine, D.S., Klein, R.G., Mannuzza, S., Moulton, J.L. 3rd, Lissek, S., Guardino, M., & Woldehawariat, G. (2005). Face-Emotion Processing in Offspring at Risk for Panic Disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44, 664-672.
  • Pine, D.S., Lissek, S., Klein, R.G., Mannuzza, S., Moulton, J.L., 3rd, Guardino, M., & Wodehawariat, G. (2004). Face-memory and emotion: Associations with major depression in children and adolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 1199-1208.
  • Grillon, C., Baas, J.M.P., Lissek, S., Smith, K., & Milstein, J. (2004). Anxious responses to predictable and unpredictable aversive events. Behavioral Neuroscience, 118, 916-924.
  • Baas, J.M.P., Nugent, M., Lissek, S., Pine, D.S., & Grillon, C. (2004). Fear conditioning in virtual reality contexts: A new tool for the study of anxiety. Biological Psychiatry, 55, 1056-1060.