301 Old Main Drive 3200B Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building College Station, TX 77845
Memories for emotional, particularly fearful, events are vivid, visceral, and enduring. Emotional memories enable us to predict and avoid potential threats, as well as respond to immediate danger. But dysfunction in this system can result in anxiety, panic and post-traumatic stress disorder, for example. Anxiety disorders are the among the most prevalent psychiatric illnesses in the world, affecting nearly one-third of the population.
Research in Dr. Maren's laboratory seeks to understand the brain circuits and cellular mechanisms underlying the encoding, storage, retrieval, and extinction of aversive memories, and how dysfunction in these circuits and processes contributes to anxiety disorders. Dr. Maren is focused on the neurobiology of fear conditioning and extinction in rats and mice. The hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex, a triad of interconnected brain areas with essential roles in memory and emotion, are critical for these processes. He uses both behavioral and systems neuroscience methods to understand the brain mechanisms of fear and anxiety.
Key Research Areas: Emotional learning and memory, hippocampus, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, fear conditioning, extinction, context-specific behavior