The Ressler Lab investigates the molecular, genetic, epigenetic, and neural circuit mechanisms underlying fear processes through an integration of animal models of fear learning and human genetic research. Our lab uses well-established mouse models to examine different aspects of fear learning (e.g., acquisition, consolidation and extinction). These models allow us to investigate the role of different brain regions, in particular the amygdala, as well as neural cell populations, and the underlying gene regulation in these cells in fear processing. Furthermore, we examine how these mechanisms may be involved in the development of fear-based disorders in humans, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, phobic disorders and panic disorder. We also utilize data collected from human clinical populations to identify genetic traits and neural processes that may contribute to the development of these illnesses and provide us with novel targets for research using animal models. Our hope is that gaining a more mechanistic understanding of how fear works in the mammalian brain will contribute to the development of novel treatments, and possibly even prevention, of fear based psychiatric illnesses.

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