The UCLA Joint Seminars in Neuroscience Presents - Elizabeth Phelps, Ph.D.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 12:00pm

The UCLA Joint Seminars in Neuroscience Presents - Elizabeth Phelps, Ph.D.

"Mechanisms of Threat Control"

Elizabeth Phelps, Ph.D.
Pershing Square Professor of Human Neuroscience
Department of Psychology
Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts

Abstract: Animal models of associative threat learning provide a basis for understanding human fears and anxiety. Building on research from animal models, I will explore a range of means maladaptive defensive responses can be acquired and diminished in humans. First, I will outline 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 that these responses are only inhibited and can return, with one factor being stress. I will then review research examining the lasting control of maladaptive defensive responses by targeting memory reconsolidation and present evidence suggesting that the behavioral interference of reconsolidation in humans diminishes involvement of the prefrontal cortex inhibitory circuitry, although there are limitations to its efficacy. Finally, I will describe two novel behavioral techniques that might result in a more lasting fear reduction by providing control over the stressor and introducing novelty.

Host: Dr. Jennifer Silvers

Zoom Seminar Registration:

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