The broad aim of the Center is to study emotional stimulus processing in all its directly measurable manifestations, i.e., as affective report, behavior, and patterns of expressive physiology (facial, visceral, and neuromuscular), and to understand the relation of these processing measures to functional changes in the brain. Ongoing basic research analyzes the interaction of emotional reactivity with attentional demands, as attention is modulated by stimulus characteristics, motivational state, and the behavioral and social context. The theoretical model of emotion and motivation guiding analyses of human affect is based on neuroscience research with animals. Connecting links with this foundation literature are sought through human electrocortical and brain imaging (fMRI) studies, and in psychophysiological experiments (e.g., conditioning) paralleling the animal research.

The Center is committed to translational research. A major goal is to bring basic scientific knowledge of emotion into the mental health arena. The Center's Fear & Anxiety Disorders Clinic is an assessment and research facillity dedicated to the study of fear, anxiety, and mood disorders. Current translational studies are supported under the NIMH Research Domain Criteria Initiative (RDoC): Strategy 1.4 of the NIMH Strategic Plan: To "develop for research purposes, new ways of classifying disorders based on dimensions of observable behavior and neuorbiological measures."

Finally, the Center aims to provide meaningful service to the field, developing stimulus materials and advancing laboratory technology, training research apprentices, fostering scientific communication, and generally facilitating emotion studies within this country and internationally.


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