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Although fear can be an adaptive emotion to defend against potential threat, excessive fear at inappropriate times and in response to harmless stimuli or situations can pose a burden to daily life.

Detail Summary
Organised by Joseph Dunsmoor, PhD | New York University
Date 16 March 2015
Time 12:00 - 14:00

Here, I will present data examining generalization and control of conditioned fear in humans. First, I will discuss research on the perceptual and conceptual routes of fear generalization from psychophysiology and neuroimaging studies in healthy adults. Next, I will discuss recent work that attempts to improve upon standard models of fear extinction by incorporating novelty and reducing uncertainty. Overall, this research examines how higher-order cognitive abilities and low level systems involved in emotional learning interact in humans to determine how we express, and can learn to control, learned fear.


About the speaker: Joey Dunsmoor (PhD Duke, 2012) is based at NYU's Department of Psychology. In his work, he investigates the interaction between emotional learning and categorization processes, through a combination of behavioral, psychophysiological and imaging techniques. For a sample of his recent work, see:

Dunsmoor, J. E., Kragel, P. A., Martin, A., & Labar, K. S. (2014). Aversive learning modulates cortical representations of object categories. Cerebral Cortex, 24, 2859-2872.


Dunsmoor, J. E., & Murphy, G. L. (2014). Stimulus typicality determines how broadly fear is generalized. Psychological Science, 25, 1816-1821.  


Dunsmoor, J. E., Campese, V. D., Ceceli, A. O., LeDoux, J. E., & Phelps, E. A. (in press). Novelty-facilitated extinction: Providing a novel outcome in place of an expected threat diminishes recovery of defensive responses. Biological Psychiatry.


Dunsmoor, J. E., Murty, V. P., Davachi, L., & Phelps, E. A. (in press). Emotional learning selectively and retroactively strengthens memories for related events. Nature.