How does the brain control fear and panic?

Emotional behaviors lie at the core of our motivations and aversions, affecting almost all aspects of our lives. Our primary interest is to investigate how the brain coordinates the constellation of changes related to aversive emotions, such as fear and panic, using mice as a model organism. These multi-faceted changes involve complex and dynamic adaptations in hormonal, physiological and behavioral systems.

We dissect how interactions between different brain structures control these processes, seeking insights that shed light on the neural basis of  pathological anxiety disorders and normal aversion to danger. We are currently studying panic-related behaviors. The same neural circuits that control escape from imminent threats, such as asphyxiation, can cause panic attacks in humans when they are activated inappropriately. Understanding the neural mechanisms underlying panic is a vital step in developing more effective therapies.

Research

We have discovered neural circuits in mice that control specific symptoms of high anxiety states, such as avoidance of risk and increases in heart rate. We also showed how the flow of neural activity in brain circuits control anxiety.

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Join our Lab

Ready to make the next breakthrough findings in neuroscience? You can join our lab and make new discoveries about how the brain controls anxiety and fear. Training the next generation of scientists is a core mission of our lab.

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