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Division of Depression and Anxiety Disorders

Kerry J. Ressler: Neurobiology of Fear Laboratory

The Neurobiology of Fear Laboratory, founded in 2001 at Emory University and relocated to McLean Hospital in 2015, investigates the molecular, genetic, epigenetic, and neural circuit mechanisms underlying fear processes through an integration of animal models and human genetic research.

Using well-established mouse models to examine different aspects of fear learning we investigate the role of different brain regions, in particular the amygdala, in fear processing. Furthermore, we examine how these mechanisms may be involved in the development of fear-based disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, phobic disorders, and panic disorder. Utilizing data collected from human clinical populations, we identify genetic traits and neural processes that may contribute to the underlying causes of these illnesses and provide us with novel targets for animal models research.

Our hope is that gaining a better understanding of how fear works in the brain will contribute to the development of new treatments, and possibly even prevention, of fear-based psychiatric illnesses.