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Psychology Distinguished Lecturer Series

This event is Cancelled
Friday, September 23, 2022
2:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Dunning Hall
Room: 11
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Speaker: Dr. Elizabeth Phelps

Title of talk: Mechanisms of Threat Control: Translational Challenges

Abstract: Animal models of associative threat learning have been proposed to provide a foundation for
understanding human fears and anxiety. This talk explores how the neural mechanisms of threat
processing identified in animal models have been translated to human brain function and extended
to complex learning situations more typical of human experience. Building on this, I discuss a
range of means maladaptive defensive responses can be diminished in humans, which holds
potential for clinical translation. First, I will briefly review how extinction and emotion regulation,
techniques adapted in cognitive behavioral therapy, can be used to control learned defensive
responses via inhibitory signals from the ventromedial prefrontal cortex to the amygdala. One
drawback of these techniques is threat responses are often weakly inhibited and can return, with
one factor being stress. I will then describe novel behavioral techniques that might result in a
more lasting fear or threat reduction. Finally, I will discuss limitations of this translational


Jason Gallivan
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