Vice Director - Prof. Tomer Schechner
The primary research focus of my lab is on the development of anxiety disorders. By using a multiple level analysis approach, we study the biological, cognitive, behavioral and environmental factors that contribute to the etiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders. We use psychological, physiological and neuroscientific measures to better understand how these factors differentiate between the development of normative fear and pathological anxiety. We focus on information processing and more specifically on different aspects of human fear learning.
Our research on fear learning extends considerable prior work showing the profound impact that early fear learning experiences exert upon a child’s functioning over time. Fear conditioning is the most common experimental paradigm used to study fear learning processes, as it provides a translational measure that can be used to study brain-behavior associations across species. In addition, fear extinction is the fundamental mechanism underpinning exposure therapy, the most common treatment for anxiety. Therefore, findings from extinction experiments are very relevant to new treatment development. Using age appropriate fear conditioning paradigms, we are currently studying fear learning and fear extinction in normative and anxious youth and adults. These studies involve a wide range of measurements from psychophysiology, neuroimaging, self-reports and behavioral observations.