Dr. John Christianson is a F32-funded research associate with extensive knowledge the neural mechanisms underlying resilience and vulnerability to anxiety and fear behavior. Past research has identified that psychological variables, including behavioral control over stress and safety signals during stress lead to a resilience from stress-induced anxiety. Furthermore, he has identified causal roles for the medial prefrontal cortex and insular cortex, respectively, in these stress-mitigating effects. His immediate goal is to advance his academic and technical skills in order to enact an independent research program studying the neural basis of safety learning and fear inhibition by safety. The K99/R00 proposal is a key component in this pursuit. Career Development Plan: Dr. Christianson

Public Health Relevance

Learning the difference between danger and safety is critical to survival, yet in some psychiatric conditions this process fails. Without veridical detection of safety, someone may express fear or anxiety even when the environmental cues indicate that danger is unlikely. The proposed work tests the hypothesis that the insular cortex is a critical contributor to safety learning and that neuroplastic changes in the insular cortex underlie the storage and recall of safety memory. This work has important implications for the treatment and diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder and other conditions that involve heightened fear and anxiety.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Type
Career Transition Award (K99)
Project #
5K99MH093412-02
Application #
8260494
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-ERB-L (01))
Program Officer
Desmond, Nancy L
Project Start
2011-04-25
Project End
2013-07-31
Budget Start
2012-04-01
Budget End
2013-07-31
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$90,000
Indirect Cost
$6,667
Name
University of Colorado at Boulder
Department
Psychology
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
007431505
City
Boulder
State
CO
Country
United States
Zip Code
80309
Christianson, John P; Drugan, Robert C; Flyer, Johanna G et al. (2013) Anxiogenic effects of brief swim stress are sensitive to stress history. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 44:17-22