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Quantifying Cardiovascular and Behavioral Correlates of Fear in Mice: Implications for PTSD and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

live Date:9/22/2021

start time:11:00 AM EDT (North America)

Duration:60 minutes

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent neuropsychological disorder that is in part characterized by exaggerated cardiovascular and autonomic arousal to trauma reminders, which over time may contribute to greater risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) development (ie., stroke, hypertension). In both humans and rodents, cardiovascular and autonomic responses are strong measures of fear or threat assessment and therefore understanding how these systems go awry in anxiety disorders such as PTSD is critical for improving current PTSD therapies as well as reducing CVD risk in this population.

In this webinar, Dr. Paul Marvar and Benjamin Turley will discuss research related to innovative methodology developed in rodent models for pairing real time multi-modal assessment of behavioral (ie., freezing, startle) and cardiovascular (ie., blood pressure, heart rate) responses to cued fear learning and how these approaches may better inform underlying cardiovascular and autonomic impairments in fear-based disorders, such as PTSD.

Key learning objectives:  
  • To understand the physiological impact of PTSD on cardiovascular and autonomic homeostasis, CVD risk
  • To understand how rodent models of conditioned fear learning can be used to assess real-time cardiovascular and autonomic fear or defensive emotional states in both home-cage and novel environments
  • To further understand the benefits for using integrated behavioral and cardiovascular multi-modal methodologies and its translational implications for improved treatments for PTSD and CVD comorbidity 

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Paul Marvar, PhD

Associate Professor

George Washington University

Dr. Paul Marvar’s research is focused on understanding the link between stress and anxiety disorders (i.e. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD) and increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. The laboratory specializes in utilizing multi-disciplinary approaches that combines integrated physiological, molecular, analytical and behavioral neuroscience tools to examine neuroendocrine (i.e. renin angiotensin system), autonomic nervous system and inflammatory pathways in PTSD related CVD. The basic science pre- clinical research funding is complimented by translational clinical research funding focused on identifying new therapeutic targets and opportunities for treatment for PTSD and co-morbid CVD.

Benjamin Turley

Master's Student

Georgetown University

Ben Turley is a Masters student at Georgetown University studying Systems Medicine. While at George Washington University, he conducted research relating to conditioned stimulus delivery in mice, specifically through use of physiological telemetry to augment existing behavioral approaches for quantifying fear response. There he developed software able to process cardiovascular telemetry signals in real-time and act on them according to parameter ranges. He now conducts epidemiological research using city-wide psychiatric data from mental health institutions, specifically targeting opioid-use disorder populations.
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Main Area(s) of Research:
Metabolic Disorders
Stress, Fear and/or Anxiety
Cardiovascular Function
Autonomic Function
Drug Discovery
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