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The Fear Lab is inspired by insights from the fields of behavioral ecology, social, evolutionary and clinical psychology.  Our lab’s main endeavor is to understand the neural and behavioral dynamics of human social and emotional experiences and consequently build new theoretical models that merge multiple fields. We employ brain imaging (e.g. fMRI) and novel behavioral techniques to examine the neurobiological systems that coordinate fear and anxiety in humans.   My lab also investigates the proximate and ultimate value of social behavior.  We are currently pursuing questions of how social behavior orchestrates and shapes emotion and how such operations are variably disrupted in psychiatric disorders.


Selected Publications

Kim, J., Tashjian, S.M., and Mobbs, D. (In Press)..  The human hypothalamus coordinates switching between different survival actions. PLoS Biology.

Wise, T., Charpentiar, C. Dayan, P.,  and Mobbs, D. (2023). Interactive cognitive maps support flexible behavior under threat. Cell Reports. 42. 8.


Tashjian, S.M., Wise, T., Mobbs, D. (2022). Increased model-based control for acquiring protection. PLoS-Computational Biology. 18 (12), e1010805.

Silston, B., Wise, T., Qi, S., Sui, X., Dayan, P., and Mobbs, D. (2021).  Neural encoding of socially adjusted value during competitive and hazardous foraging. Nature Communications. 12 (1) 1-11.


Mobbs, D., Wise, T., Suthana, N., Guzman, N., Kriegeskorte, N., Leibo, J., (2021).  The Promises and Challenges of Human Computational Ethology. Neuron. 109; 14; 2224-2238.

Mobbs, D., Headley, D., Ding, W., Dayan, P.  (2020).  Space, Time, and Fear: Survival Computations Along Defensive Circuits. 24, 228-24; Trends in Cognitive Science. 24; 3; 228-241. Cover Image.


Fung, B., Qi, S., Hassabis, D., Daw, N., Mobbs, D.  (2019). Slow escape decisions are swayed by trait anxiety. Nature: Human Behavior. 3, 702-708.  Perspective by Neil McNaughton.

Qi, S., Hassabis, D., Sun, J., Guo, F., Daw, N., and Mobbs, D.  (2018). How Cognitive and Reactive Fear Circuits Optimize Escape Decisions in Humans. PNAS. 115 (12), 3186-3191.


Mobbs, D., Yu, R., Rowe, J., Eich, H., Feldmanhall, O., Dalgleish, T. (2010).  Neural activity associated with monitoring the oscillating threat value of a Tarantula. PNAS. 107: 20582-6. Top 10 PNAS papers of 2010.


Mobbs, D., Petrovic, P., Marchant, J., Hassabis, D., Seymour, B., Weiskopf, N., Dolan, R.J., Frith, C.D (2007). When Fear is Near: Threat Imminence Elicits Prefrontal - Periaqueductal Grey Shifts in Humans. Science. 317; 1079-1083. Perspective by Steve Maren.

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