The Rockefeller University
Emory University School of Medicine, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Georgia State University Center for Behavioral Neuroscience
University of Richmond
Research in the Jasnow Lab is centered around gaining a better understanding of overlapping
neural circuits and molecular mechanisms regulating aversive behavior (fear and stress-responsive
behaviors) and appetitive behavior (drug seeking and social behavior). To accomplish
this our lab integrates several interrelated fields that include behavioral neuroendocrinology,
social behavior & stress, learning and memory, the neural control of fear, and addiction.
The framework for our approach is the principle that integrative, multidisciplined
research enables biologically and ethologically relevant discoveries of the interaction
among genes, neural circuits, and the environment. We strive to understand how these
systems interact to regulate behavior – both adaptive and maladaptive – in relation
to health and disease. Work in the Jasnow Lab is funded by the National Institute
of Mental Health and Private Foundations.
Neural circuits of generalized fear memory
Memories are not maintained as stable neural representations across time. As a result,
old recalled memories are rarely the same as when they were initially formed. Although
dynamic neural ensembles representing memories have been characterized, we still have
a limited understanding of how changes in ensembles and their associated neural circuits
contribute to the loss of memory specificity that occurs over time. This has broad
implications for forgetting, memory dysfunction due to aging or dementia, and overgeneralization
associated with anxiety disorders and stress-related disorders such as post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD). A major focus in our lab is identifying how changes in memory
systems contribute to a loss of context memory specificity and increased generalization
Neuroendocrine regulation of generalized fear
Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent and disproportionately affect women. Although
this sex bias is well-established, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Our work
has shown that intact female rats generalize fear at a faster rate over time than
intact males and this effect is due to estradiol. Ovariectomy eliminates context fear
generalization in females, which is restored by estradiol administration. In contrast,
gonadectomy in males promotes fear generalization, which is suppressed by administration
of testosterone or estradiol. Thus, estradiol normally promotes context generalization
in female rats, whereas it suppresses contextual generalization in males through aromatization
from testosterone. Our research focus here is to identify the cellular and molecular
mechanisms explaining why estradiol promotes generalization in females while reducing
it in males and how this relates to increased vulnerability to anxiety disorders and
stress-related disorders in women.
Cortical and amygdala integration in the nucleus accumbens controlling fear extinction
Excessive associative fear is a hallmark symptom of many anxiety disorders and phobias.
These disorders frequently co-occur with substance abuse or mood dysregulation, severely
complicating treatment and the recovery process. A major challenge to understanding
and treating co-morbid substance abuse and emotional disorders is identifying how
brain regions involved in reward may integrate with neuronal circuits regulating the
expression and extinction of conditioned aversive responses.
Adolescent stress, corticosterone, and behavioral resilience
Negative experiences during vulnerable life periods can drastically shape adult brain
and behavior. One of these vulnerable periods is adolescence. Indeed, exposure to
negative experiences during adolescence is associated with increased co-morbid substance
abuse and major psychiatric illness. Our data suggest that a blunted corticosterone
response to early adolescence stress leads to an adult susceptible social stress and
drug seeking phenotype – data that is supported by human literature on post-traumatic
stress disorder. Our current experiments aim to understand the molecular interactions
between early adolescent stress and elevated corticosterone that may underlie behavioral
- Ortiz, S., M. S. Latsko, J. L. Fouty, S. Dutta, J. M. Adkins and A. M. Jasnow (2019). Anterior
cingulate cortex and ventral hippocampal inputs to the basolateral amygdala selectively
control generalized fear. Journal of Neuroscience.
- Adkins, Jordan M., Lynch, Joseph F., Hagerdorn, Payton, Esterhuizen, Monique and Jasnow,
Aaron M. Anterior cingulate cortex and dorsal hippocampal glutamate receptors mediate
generalized fear in female rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2019; 107:109-118
- Gilman TL, Dutta S, Adkins JM, Cecil CA, Jasnow AM. Basolateral amygdala Thy1-expressing
neurons facilitate the inhibition of contextual fear during consolidation, reconsolidation,
and extinction. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2018 Nov;155:498-507.
- Lynch JF, Winiecki P, Gilman TL, Adkins JM, Jasnow AM. Hippocampal GABA(B(1a)) Receptors
Constrain Generalized Contextual Fear. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Mar;42(4):914-924.
- Latsko MS, Gilman TL, Matt LM, Nylocks KM, Coifman KG, Jasnow AM. A Novel Interaction
between Tryptophan Hydroxylase 2 (TPH2) Gene Polymorphism (rs4570625)and BDNF Val66Met
Predicts a High-Risk Emotional Phenotype in Healthy Subjects. PLoS One. 2016 Oct 3;11(10):e0162585.
- Jasnow AM, Lynch JF 3rd, Gilman TL, Riccio DC. Perspectives on fear generalization
and its implications for emotional disorders. J Neurosci Res. 2017 Mar;95(3):821-835.
- Demas GE, Jasnow AM. Empathy in prairie voles: Is this the consolation prize? Learn
Behav. 2016 Dec;44(4):303-304.
- Lynch JF 3rd, Vanderhoof T, Winiecki P, Latsko MS, Riccio DC, Jasnow AM. Aromatized
testosterone attenuates contextual generalization of fear in male rats. Horm Behav.
- Latsko MS, Farnbauch LA, Gilman TL, Lynch JF 3rd, Jasnow AM. Corticosterone may interact
with peripubertal development to shape adult resistance to social defeat. Horm Behav.
- Lynch JF 3rd, Winiecki P, Vanderhoof T, Riccio DC, Jasnow AM. Hippocampal cytosolic
estrogen receptors regulate fear generalization in females. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2016
- Gisquet-Verrier P, Lynch JF 3rd, Cutolo P, Toledano D, Ulmen A, Jasnow AM,Riccio DC.
Integration of New Information with Active Memory Accounts for Retrograde Amnesia:
A Challenge to the Consolidation/Reconsolidation Hypothesis? J Neurosci. 2015 Aug
- Cullen PK, Gilman TL, Winiecki P, Riccio DC, Jasnow AM. Activity of the anterior cingulate
cortex and ventral hippocampus underlie increases in contextual fear generalization.
Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2015 Oct;124:19-27.
- Gilman TL, DaMert JP, Meduri JD, Jasnow AM. Grin1 deletion in CRF neurons sex-dependently
enhances fear, sociability, and social stress responsivity. Psychoneuroendocrinology.