Dr Shmuel Lissek
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.