In our new review published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, we systematically review the evidence for fear conditioning deficits in obsessive-compulsive disorder, a first for the field. Extinction deficits are the most strongly supported, but new and more complex conditioning work is needed in this area.

August 10, 2021

As of July 20, we have a new lab manager/research associate in the lab. Welcome Sophia! We are looking forward to a great year of research!

July 22, 2021

According to our new research published in Frontiers in Communication, fear in response to COVID-19 is related to people thinking more rigidly and makes it harder for them to recognize misinformation and more likely to spread it.

January 21, 2021

In our new paper published in Neuropsychologia, we investigate how episodic mental context processes guide the retrieval of fear extinction. Additionally, we show that this process is dysregulated in individuals with PTSD symptoms.

August 13, 2020

Congratulations to Gus, who recently received a 2-year NRSA F31 personal fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health!

May 1, 2020

New paper in Neuropyschopharmacology explores how PTSD patients generalize conditioned fear across semantically-related categories. Results help us understand how fear spreads across related concepts in PTSD!

March 31st, 2020

New paper from our lab on the effects of reward on implicit and explicit fear memory. Our results provide novel evidence that aversive-to-appetitive counterconditioning, as compared to extinction, strengthens memory for items directly associated with a positive outcome and diminishes fear relapse.

December 19th, 2019

In our new review paper we explore a technique that has been largely overlooked for the past few decades: counterconditioning. We describe neurobiological and neuroimaging research in this area and we detail whether counterconditioning is any more effective than standard extinction at preventing relapse of the originally learned behavior. Read to find out!

December 19th, 2019

Joey was awarded Associate Member status in the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP)

December 12th, 2019

New review paper by an international crew of researchers on how fear conditioning research can translate from the lab into the clinic.

December 3rd, 2019

Welcome to our new postdoctoral researchers, Sam Cooper and Carola Salvi! We are excited to have them join the Dunsmoor lab.

August 27th, 2019

Congratulations to Nicole Keller for being awarded the Fred Murphy Jones & Homer Lindsey Bruce Endowed Fellowship by the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research at UT Austin!

July 9th, 2019

New co-authored paper with collaborators from around the globe on the neural overlap between cognitive reappraisal and fear extinction. Common and distinct neural correlates of fear extinction and cognitive reappraisal: a meta-analysis of fMRI studies.

June 20, 2019

New paper on how emotion affects memory for neutral events. It’s complicated. Involves an interplay between arousal, attention, and anticipation.

Image result for memory

May 9, 2019

New paper In Journal of Neuroscience with collaborators from the across the world. Replacing electric shocks with novel cues in extinction leads to better extinction learning in humans. Or, according to co-author Marijn Kroes, “Surprising people catches their attention so that their brains learn to regulate fear better!”


March 1, 2019

New paper in JEP:GEN showing that fear conditioning has effects on episodic memory precision. Possible explanation for overgeneralization following highly emotional events.

 January 21, 2019

Joey is honored to receive a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. The grant is entitled “Implications of a neurobiological model of memory for education: how novelty exposure transforms poor learning into durable memories.”
Here’s a brief summary: There are remarkable findings in laboratory animals that mere exposure to novelty has memory enhancing effects, as long as novelty exposure is properly timed to coincide with weak learning within a critical time window (de Carvalho Myskiw et al., 2013; Moncada et al., 2015; Viola et al., 2014; Wang et al., 2010). A greater understanding for how to precisely apply novelty exposure to boost poor learning holds a number of exciting implications for human memory, including applied strategies to improve education, therapy, and memory in daily life. For example, a straightforward application is to induce novelty exposure within a critical time window before or after learning so as to bolster retention of the learned material.
The lab is super excited to work on these projects. Contact us if you’re interested in joining the team!

 January 15, 2019

New paper with lab collaborator Oriel FeldmanHall at Brown University on how Pavlovian conditioning could be used to explain complex moral reasoning and social decision making!

 December 4, 2018

Excited to announce the Dunsmoor lab has a new opening for a postdoc. For those with an interest in how emotion shapes learning and memory, apply online here and send Joey an email. UT is a great place to work and Austin is a great place to live. 

 October 22, 2018

Check out Joey’s new paper on the overlap between episodic memory and Pavlovian conditioning in Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, written in collaboration with Marijn Kroes from the Donders Institute!

October 11, 2018

We’re on a roll! Congratulations to Gus Hennings on passing his Qualifications Exam for UT Austin’s Institute of Neuroscience (INS). He is also now officially a PhD candidate for the INS!


September 18, 2018

Congratulations to Nicole Keller on passing her Qualifications Exam for UT Austin’s Institute of Neuroscience (INS). She is now officially a PhD candidate for the INS!


August 31, 2018

A postdoc position is now available in the Dunsmoor Lab! If you’re an interested candidate, please send an inquiry to Joey Dunsmoor (joseph [dot] dunsmoor [at] austin [dot] utexas [dot] edu). 

August 31, 2018

Congratulations to our postdoctoral researcher, Jarid Goodman, for accepting an offer as Tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Delaware State University! The Dunsmoor Lab will miss him and wishes him the best at DSU.


August 25, 2018

The lab is happy to report that we received a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. This award will be used to investigate the long term retention of fear extinction memories in patients with PTSD using functional MRI.

 August 16, 2018

Congratulations to Nicole Keller for receiving a Diversity Award from NIMH to study Counter Conditioning!

 July 24, 2018

Joey has been invited to join the Memory Disorders Research Society. Toronto here we come!

 May, 2018

Nicole and Gus presented at the 2018 CNS conference in Boston!

 March, 2018

Article in Popular Science on work with our collaborator Oriel FeldmanHall at Brown University on how our brain relies on prior experience to decide whether or not to trust similar looking strangers.

 February 2, 2018

In our first Halloween interview, Joey is asked about what exactly makes your everyday clown so darn spooky.

Photo Credit: Geo Casillas

October 23, 2017

We were recently interviewed by the Daily Texan about all things fear, including overcoming fear through extinction and counter-conditioning!

An adorable picture of our lab.

October 11, 2017

We are excited to announce the July 17th publication of the paper “Stress promotes generalization of older but not recent threat memories” in PNAS! Check out some press love from UT Austin and Science Daily.

Joey being interviewed by Local Fox News about the implications of the PNAS study.

August 16, 2017

Our lab is growing, with Gus Hennings joining as a PhD candidate, Jarid Goodman joining as a post-doctoral fellow, and Mason McClay joining as a research assistant!

August 14, 2017

Just moved into the Health Discovery Building of the Dell Medical School!

View of HDB from Trinity Street.

July 27, 2017

Our Biological Psychiatry paper, “Novelty-facilitated extinction: providing a novel outcome in place of an expected threat diminishes recovery of defensive responses”, received some press from PsychCentral and EurekAlert!

August 14, 2015

Check out what Scientific American had to say about our 2015 Nature publication, titled “Emotional learning selectively and retroactively strengthens episodic memories for related events”!

October 15, 2015

The New York Times and The New Yorker recently wrote articles about our Nature paper, “Emotional learning selectively and retroactively strengthens episodic memories for related events”. Check ’em out!

Illustration by Rachel Levit from a 2015 The New Yorker article about our work on retroactively and selectively enhanced memories.

January 21, 2015