Recent advances…

Our mission

The broad aim of our laboratory’s multi-disciplinary research program is to understand the mechanisms that support the development and maintenance of internalizing disorders and substance abuse in the first three decades of life. Most of our work is focused on identifying the neural circuitry underlying individual differences in fear and anxiety, including anxious temperament, behavioral inhibition, and dispositional negativity. These traits first emerge early in development and, when extreme, confer increased risk for the development of a variety of common and debilitating mental and physical illnesses. To understand the origins and natural course of this liability, we use a broad spectrum of tools—including multimodal neuroimaging (MRI, PET), acute pharmacological manipulations, peripheral physiological measures, eye-tracking, ecological momentary assessment (EMA), and behavioral assays—and work closely with collaborators in North America, Israel, and Germany. In short, we are a translational and affective neuroscience laboratory. Clinically, our work promises to enhance our understanding of how emotional traits and states confer risk for a range of adverse health outcomes, facilitate the discovery of novel intermediate phenotypes and biomarkers, and set the stage for developing improved interventions. From a basic psychological science perspective, our research begins to address fundamental questions about the nature and the origins of temperament and the interplay of emotion and cognition.

Our work is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), and University of Maryland.


Alexander J. Shackman, Ph.D.
Lab Director
University of Maryland
3123G Biology-Psychology Building
College Park, MD 20742-4411