The Dunsmoor Lab at the Society of Biological Psychiatry’s 2024 annual meeting. Patrick, Lingwei, and Sydney presented posters on their work in the lab and Joey gave a talk sharing the results of one of our neuroimaging studies in clinical populations. Great work everyone!

May 9-12, 2024

Cheyenne is off to medical school! Lucky for us, she will just be next door at UT Dell Medical. We thank her for her work in the lab and wish her luck in her next chapter!

April 30, 2024

Lingwei and Sydney take Toronto! Joined by Kierra Morris from the Cisler Lab who presented, “Decoding neural threat representations using shock prediction modeling in women with PTSD undergoing an exposure therapy task.”  The trio presented at the CNS 2024 Annual Meeting. Lingwei presented “The effect of threat intensity on episodic conditioned fear memory,” & Sydney presented “Boundaries of behavioral tagging: arousal alters setting of learning tags produced by weak learning.” Great work!

April 16, 2024

Advancing Science! Patrick was a speaker at the 11th annual Waggoner Center Advance Conference. He presented a talk on “The Precision and Generalization of Safety” based on results from three recent studies led by him at the Dunsmoor lab. Fantastic work, Patrick!

April 15, 2024

The Dunsmoor Lab’s very own (Dr.) Ayesha Nadiadwala became a doctor! Her dissertation discussed her work on the influence of emotion on temporalmemory and memory organization. We can’t wait to see where the journey will take her next. Congratulations Ayesha!

March 27 , 2024

Big congratulations to Sophia Bibb! She has been accepted as a Cognitive Neuroscience Ph.D. graduate student at The Ohio State University under the mentorship of Stephanie Gorka and Zeynep Saygin. She also accomplished an amazing feat of attaining a research fellowship. We can’t wait to see where the journey will take her next. Congratulations Sophia!

May 1, 2023

Sam and Joey have a new paper on test-retest in threat generalization, published at Psychophysiology. They found that across a relatively short interval, a physiological index of generalization (SCR) was relatively stable. This type of work speaks to an increased push towards psychometric validation of threat conditioning tasks.

December 22, 2022

Sam is honored to be named an Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) Career Development Leadership Program awardee! This program takes place at the upcoming 2023 ADAA conference and also involves Sam presenting his work on neural mechanisms underlying aversive sensory preconditioning. Congrats, Sam!

December 14, 2022

Big news: The Dunsmoor Lab’s second-ever graduate student, Nicole Keller, recently became a doctor! Her (very impressive) dissertation discussed her work on the influence of counterconditioning on return of fear. Though we are sad to see her go, we look forward to seeing all that she accomplishes with her shiny new PhD. We will miss you, Nicole! 

November 28, 2022

With the beginning of the new school year came a new graduate student for the Dunsmoor Lab! Welcome, Lingwei! We are so happy to have you as a part of our lab!

August 16, 2022

We have a new paper in Neuron out this month by Joey Dunsmoor, Josh Cisler, Greg Fonzo, Suzannah Creech, and Charles Nemeroff entitled “Laboratory models of posttraumatic stress disorder: The elusive bridge to translation.” In this paper, Joey and colleagues from UT Austin describe the shortcomings of popular laboratory animal models of PTSD, such as Pavlovian fear conditioning, and prescribe concrete ideas for improving these models to better understand the complexity of PTSD symptoms in laboratory research in humans.

June 28, 2022

We have a new paper out soon in Trends in Cognitive Sciences by Joey Dunsmoor, Vishnu Murty, David Clewett, Liz Phelps, and Lila Davachi, entitled “Tag-and-capture: How salient experiences target and rescue nearby events in memory.” In this paper, Joey and his colleagues review  emerging research on the enhancing property of salient experiences for rescuing memory for weak events encoded in a critical time window before or after a salient experience.

June 28, 2022

Congratulations to Carola for accepting a professorship in Italy. We’ll miss you, but we are excited to see all that you accomplish moving forward! 

June 1, 2022

In the wake of Gus’s graduation, we’re excited to welcome a new post-doc, Patrick Laing, all the way from Melbourne, Australia.  Welcome to the lab, Patrick! We can’t wait to see all the great work you accomplish in the Dunsmoor Lab. 

May 17, 2022

In our recent meta-analysis published in Neuropsychopharmacology, we found that across behavioral studies, conditioned fear generalization is significantly stronger than those found in meta-analyses of more simple differential conditioning paradigms, providing additional support for the use of generalization paradigms in the study of pathological anxiety. 

April 30, 2022

Huge congratulations to the Dunsmoor Lab’s first graduate student, Gus Hennings, for defending his dissertation! He is now officially Dr. Gus. He will begin his postdoctoral studies this Summer in the lab of Dr. Ken Norman at Princeton University, where he will use real-time fMRI to continue studying memory.  The lab is so proud and we can’t wait to see all that he accomplishes! 

April 22, 2022

Sam is honored to receive a 2-year NRSA F32 personal fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health, titled “Neurobehavioral Mechanisms of Higher-Order and Conceptual Fear and Avoidance Generalization in Anxiety Psychopathology” (mentors: Dunsmoor and Nemeroff). This fellowship includes training in multivariate fMRI analyses in service of two studies of higher-order generalization processes through which networks of abstract or indirect fear associations develop and spread in PTSD and covary with dimensional anxiety traits. 

December 4, 2021 

 In our new paper published in Current Biology, we explore how fear and extinction memories are organized in the human brain. Notably, we observed that healthy adults’ and adults with PTSD’s brains store memories of fear and extinction differently, which may indicate a physical biomarker for the source of fear generalization in adults with PTSD. 

November 30, 2021

 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