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 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. In short, we are a clinical psychology laboratory that leverages the insights afforded by fMRI. Clinically, our work promises to enhance our understanding of how emotional traits and states modulate risk, 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 of personality and the interplay of emotion and cognition.


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