Keynote Speakers

We are very happy to announce the keynote speakers in 2021 for the EMHFC@home:

 Rebecca Shansky, PhD

Behavioral diversity in threat responding: sex-dependent strategies in conditioned fear paradigms

For over half a century, classical auditory fear conditioning has been a mainstay for neuroscientists studying the mechanisms of learning and memory in rodents. However, the use of freezing as a singular measure of “fear” or “learning” can lead to misinterpreted data sets when animals exhibit alternative threat responses. This limitation is especially problematic in studies that include both sexes, as we have found that females are more likely than males to engage active response strategies (“darting”) in standard fear conditioning paradigms. I will discuss recent work by my lab to determine the situational and neurobiological determinants of darting, and speak to broader issues of the need to use both sexes in basic research.

About the speaker

Rebecca Shansky is a neuroscientist and professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, where she directs the Laboratory of Neuroanatomy and Behavior. Her research uses rodent models to explore the links between brain structure and function, focusing on how individual differences in response to trauma shape long-term memories. She is a vocal advocate for gender and sex equity in experimental design, highlighted recently in her Science Magazine perspective, “Are hormones a ‘female problem’ for animal research?” For more information, see:


 Stefan Hofmann, PhD

Translational research from extinction learning to exposure therapy: mind the gap

Laboratory models of threat and fear learning in animals and humans have the potential to illuminate methods for improving clinical treatment anxiety disorders. However, such translational research often neglects important differences between animals and humans. Specifically, the conscious experience of fear and anxiety, along with the capacity to deliberately engage top-down cognitive processes to modulate that experience, involves distinct brain circuitry and is measured and manipulated using different methods than typically used in animal research. I will identify how translational research that investigates methods of enhancing extinction learning in animals can more effectively model such elements in exposure therapy for humans, and how doing so will enhance the relevance of this research to the treatment of anxiety disorders.

About the speaker

Stefan G. Hofmann, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Boston University. He was president of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and other international organizations and is editor-in-chief of Cognitive Therapy and Research. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed journal articles and 20 books and is a Highly Cited Researcher among many other awards, including the Humboldt Research Award and the Aaron T. Beck Award. His research focuses on the mechanism of treatment change, translating discoveries from neuroscience into clinical applications, emotion regulation, and cultural expressions of psychopathology. For more information, see: