Systems neuropharmacology of aversive learning

Research Group

Overview

Our research focuses on neurotransmitter systems involved in aversive learning. In particular, we investigate how neurotransmitters such as Dopamine, Opioids and Cannabinoids contribute to emotional states of fear and anxiety. Moreover, we try to understand how these neurotransmitters influence the dynamics of learned fear and their impact on models of behavioural treatment of anxiety related disorders.

We employ basic learning paradigms such as classical conditioning, which enables translational neuroscientific research across species. To draw inferences on the neuropharmacological systems involved in these basic aversive learning processes, we combine pharmacological neuroimaging (fMRI) methods with psychophysiological measurements of threat responses.

  • Staff
    • Pharmacological enhancement of fear extinction
    • Fear memory dynamics and return of fear
    • Pharmacological connectomics and graph models of fMRI resting-state
    • Neuropharmacological regulation of social (observational) fear learning
    • Safety learning, fear memory dynamics and return of fear
    • Pharmacological connectomics and graph models of fMRI resting-state

  • Haaker J, Yi J, Petrovic P & Olsson A.: Endogenous opioids regulate social threat learning in humans. Nature Communications 2017 May 25;8:15495.

    Haaker J*, Golkar A*, Selbing I* & Olsson A.: Assessment of social transmission of threats in humans using observational fear conditioning. Nature Protocols 2017 Jul;12(7):1378-1386. (*=equal contributions)

    Haaker J, Lonsdorf TB, Schümann D, Bunzeck N, Peters J, Sommer T & Kalisch R.: Where There is Smoke There is Fear-Impaired Contextual Inhibition of Conditioned Fear in Smokers. Neuropsychopharmacology 2017 Jul;42(8):1640-1646.

    Haaker J, Menz M, Fadai T, Eippert F & Büchel C: Dopaminergic receptor blockade changes a functional connectivity network centred on the amygdala Human Brain Mapping 2016 Nov;37(11):4148-4157.

    Haaker J, Gaburro S, Sah A, Gartmann N, Lonsdorf TB, Meier K, Singewald N, Pape H-C, Morellini F* & Kalisch R* : A single dose of L-DOPA makes extinction memories context-independent and prevents the return of fear. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A (PNAS). 2013 Jun 25;110(26):E2428-36.(*=equal contributions)

    Haaker J, Hermanns D, Golkar A & Lonsdorf TB: A review on human reinstatement studies: An overview and methodological challenges. Learning & Memory 2014 Sep 21: 424-440.

    Haaker J, Molapour T, Olsson A.: Conditioned social dominance threat: observation of others' social dominance biases threat learning. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2016 May 20.

    Haaker J, Lonsdorf TB, Kalisch R: Effects of post-extinction L-DOPA administration on the spontaneous recovery and reinstatement of fear in a human fMRI study Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015 Oct;25(10):1544-55.

    Haaker J, Menz M, Fadai T, Eippert F & Büchel C: Dopaminergic receptor blockade changes a functional connectivity network centred on the amygdala Hum Brain Mapp (in press)
    Funding

  • SFB TRR-58 Fear, Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, Project B10 The influence and interaction of the dopaminergic and endocannabinoid system on extinction learning mechanisms

    DFG Postdoc Grant The neurobiological mechanisms of social return of fear (HA 7470/1-1)

Postdoc

Dr. Roland Eßer

Student Assistant

Saregül Subasi