Shmuel Lissek, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Psychology

E-MAIL: [email protected]

Research Interests:

What happens in the human brain and body during fear-related learning, memory, and decision making? What aberrancies in these psychobiological processes are associated with the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms of clinical anxiety? These questions of central interest are addressed using neuroimaging, psychophysiologic, pharmacologic, and behavioral assays of classical and operant fear-conditioning. The cross-species nature of this conditioning approach brings to bear a wealth of animal data with which to elucidate the neurobiology of fear and behavioral avoidance in the human instance. Specific areas of interest include:

1) the generalization of conditioned fear to stimuli resembling the learned danger-cue as a pathogenic marker of PTSD, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder
2) the neurobiology, psychophysiology, and pharmacologic-modifiability of conditioned fear generalization
3) the conditioning-dependent plasticity in neural representations of learned danger-cues that may subserve the generalization process; and
4) the psychobiologic substrates of classically conditioned fear as predictors of operant avoidance.

Selected Publications:

(For a comprehensive list of recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)

  • Berg H, Hunt C, Cooper SE, Olatunji BO, Lissek S. Generalization of conditioned disgust and the attendant maladaptive avoidance: Validation of a novel paradigm and effects of trait disgust-proneness. Behav Res Ther. 2021 Nov;146:103966.
  • Webler RD, Berg H, Fhong K, Tuominen L, Holt DJ, Morey RA, Lange I, Burton PC, Fullana MA, Radua J, Lissek S. The neurobiology of human fear generalization: meta-analysis and working neural model. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2021 Sep;128:421-436.
  • Berg H, Ma Y, Rueter A, Kaczkurkin A, Burton PC, DeYoung CG, MacDonald AW, Sponheim SR, Lissek SM. Salience and central executive networks track overgeneralization of conditioned-fear in post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychol Med. 2020 May 5:1-10.
  • Hammell AE, Helwig NE, Kaczkurkin AN, Sponheim SR, Lissek S. The temporal course of over-generalized conditioned threat expectancies in posttraumatic stress disorder. Behav Res Ther. 2020 Jan;124:103513.
  • Hunt C, Cooper SE, Hartnell MP, Lissek S. Anxiety sensitivity and intolerance of uncertainty facilitate associations between generalized Pavlovian fear and maladaptive avoidance decisions. J Abnorm Psychol. 2019 May;128(4):315-326.
  • Cooper SE, Grillon C, Lissek S. Impaired discriminative fear conditioning during later training trials differentiates generalized anxiety disorder, but not panic disorder, from healthy control participants. Compr Psychiatry. 2018 Aug;85:84-93.
  • Marquardt CA, Goldman DJ, Cuthbert BN, Lissek S, Sponheim SR.  Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Rather Than Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Best Account for Altered Emotional Responses in Military Veterans.  J Trauma Stress. 2018 Feb;31(1):114-124.  PMID: 29513916
  • Lange I, Goossens L, Michielse S, Bakker J, Lissek S, Papalini S, Verhagen S, Leibold N, Marcelis M, Wichers M, Lieverse R, van Os J, van Amelsvoort T, Schruers K. Behavioral pattern separation and its link to the neural mechanisms of fear generalization. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2017;12(11):1720-1729.
  • Hunt C, Cooper SE, Hartnell MP, Lissek S. Distraction/Suppression and Distress Endurance diminish the extent to which generalized conditioned fear is associated with maladaptive behavioral avoidance. Behav Res Ther. 2017;96:90-105.
  • Duits P, Cath DC, Lissek S, Hox JJ, Hamm AO, Engelhard IM, van den Hout MA, Baas JM. An updated meta-analysis of classical fear-conditioning in the anxiety disorders. Depression and Anxiety. 2015;32, 239-253.
  • Lissek S, van Meurs B. Learning models of PTSD: Theoretical accounts and psychobiological evidence. Int J Psychophysiol. 2015;98(3 Pt 2):594-605
  • Lissek S, Bradford DE, Alvarez RP, Burton P, Espensen-Sturges T, Reynolds RC, Grillon C. Neural substrates of classically conditioned fear-generalization in humans: a parametric fMRI study. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2014;9(8):1134-42.
  • van Meurs B, Wiggert N, Wicker I, Lissek S. Maladaptive behavioral consequences of conditioned fear-generalization: a pronounced, yet sparsely studied, feature of anxiety pathology. Behav Res Ther. 2014;57:29-37.
  • Lissek S, Kaczkurkin AN, Rabin S, Geraci M, Pine DS, Grillon C. Generalized anxiety disorder is associated with overgeneralization of classically conditioned fear. Biol Psychiatry. 2014;75(11):909-15.
Shmuel LIssek