Neuroimaging Memories of Fear and Safety in the Human Brain

  • End date
    Dec 31, 2025
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Texas at Austin
Updated on 24 May 2022
panic disorder
social phobia
functional magnetic resonance imaging
mood disorder
Accepts healthy volunteers


The purpose of this research is to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate how the brain forms associations between neutral and negative stimuli. The ultimate goal is to understand the neural systems involved in regulating negative emotional responses to fearful stimuli.


This study uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate how the brain forms associations between neutral stimuli and a mildly uncomfortable electrical stimulation to the wrist. Referred to as Pavlovian fear conditioning. The goal is to compare brain activity between individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and healthy control subjects without PTSD. PTSD is characterized by excessive fear and anxiety, including in harmless situations. The data here will help us better understand dysregulation in neural circuitry involved in fear recovery, which has implications for improving treatment.

Condition Fear Anxiety, PTSD
Treatment Fear Conditioning
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04975009
SponsorUniversity of Texas at Austin
Last Modified on24 May 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD, as assessed by standard diagnostic instruments
Participants with PTSD are eligible if they meet diagnostic criteria for current PTSD. This is determined by the presence of a Criterion A event in addition to a severity score of 2 or greater on 1 symptom in clusters B and C and on 2 symptoms in clusters D and E, in addition to meeting criteria F and G. The specific form of trauma is not considered for inclusion/exclusion
Volunteers in the patient group, but not healthy control group, may also meet criteria for a mood disorder (except for bipolar affective disorder, see exclusions below), as well as other anxiety disorders (panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, or obsessive compulsive disorder). Including these comorbidities is essential because of the high frequency of co-occurring mood and anxiety disorders with PTSD

Exclusion Criteria

Volunteers with a major medical illness or a neurological disorder (e.g., Parkinson's Disease), or neurological abnormality including significant head trauma (loss of consciousness > 5 min)
A positive pregnancy test in female volunteers
Benzodiazepines, tested using urine tox screen
For the healthy subjects, exclusion is meeting criteria for either PTSD, or any other psychiatric disorder, or any prior psychiatric hospitalizations
For the healthy subjects, exclusion is prior use of a psychotropic medication for longer than 1 month
History of moderate to severe cannabis use disorder
MRI exclusions: Claustrophobia; tattoos above the shoulders; permanent eyeliner or permanent; artificial eyebrows; cardiac pacemaker; metal fragments in eye, skin, or body, including shrapnel; heart valve replacement; brain clips; venous umbrella; being a sheet-metal worker or welder; lifetime history of aneurysm surgery; intracranial bypass, renal, or aortic clips; prosthetic devices such as middle ear, eye, joint, or penile implants; joint replacements; non-removable hearing aid, neurostimulator, or insulin pump; shunts/stents; metal mesh/coil implants; metal plate/pin/screws/wires; or any other metal implants
Exclusion Criteria (PTSD group)
\. Volunteers meeting DSM-5 criteria for history of or current psychotic or bipolar affective disorders, a current eating disorder (bulimia, anorexia nervosa), or dissociative identity disorder. 2. Volunteers meeting DSM-5 criteria for another substance use disorder, with the exception of caffeine or nicotine, within the past 12 months. 3. Individuals considered an immediate suicide risk based on the Columbia Suicide Severity Scale (C-SSRS) or who would likely require hospitalization during the course of the study. 4. Participants must be stable on medication
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact



Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Browse trials for

Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note