Introduction to Our Research

Meet the people of the lab

C-G Arena & Data Download

Current and Past Projects

Theory Behind Our Research

Empirical Work

Dr. Jacob's Classes



email the webmaster


I am interested in taking students next year, but would like to inform you of a couple of things before you apply (those of you interested in the clinical program need to attend very carefully to this).

First, I, along with my clinical colleagues, am firmly committed to an empirically based approach to psychopathology. Although there are many views out there, I have chosen to use basic scientific methodologies to investigate the problems/topics that interest me. I, along with my clinical colleagues, expect the same from all of my students.

Second, my laboratory houses graduate students from the Clinical, Ethology and Evolutionary Psychology (EEP), and Cognitive and Neural Systems (CNS) programs, all of which are a part of the Psychology department. We are looking for students with deep interests in mastering Methodology –  the areas in which the students apply the methods is of less interest than a mastery of the methods themselves. I structured the laboratory in that way because I do not applaud segregated knowledge. Each field informs the other –  and we expect the students in this lab to have a working knowledge of each of these fields.

Third, for those going through the clinical program, we commit the lab to producing clinical scientists. None of my clinical students (thus far) has gone into practice. All are academically based psychopathologists, neuropsychologists, or cognitive neuroscientists. All work in academic settings - in Universities, medical schools, or research hospitals. I am loathe to take a student with interests outside of these settings.

Fourth, my clinical students produce research. A typical student publishes at least five articles during the graduate career, in addition to completing a Masters, Comprehensive Examination, and Ph.D. thesis. The careers of all of my students, be they Clinical, EEP, or CNS, reflect a focus on knowledge –  its discovery and dissemination.

Fifth, we follow the data quite closely. In so doing, we can be very hard on beliefs.

If, after reading this message and a few of our papers, you feel our interests fit well, please contact me. My students and I would be delighted to talk to you about what we do, how we do it, and why we are pursuing this intellectual way of life.

- W.J. Jacobs

The Anxiety Research Group (ARG) studies anxiety, fear, and its regulation.  Some label this emotional state fear, terror, dread, horror, fright, panic, alarm, trepidation, apprehension, anxiety, and even stress –  indicating it is an ill-defined construct. A part of our work is to determine which of these labels represent psychologically real constructs (Latent Constructs) and which represent labels of convenience (Emergent Constructs). 


We know spatial environments, intra-species environments, social situations, simple discriminative stimuli, rules, frames of reference, coping strategies, and even traumatic stress can regulate this emotional state. Hence, a part of our work is to examine various sources of regulation and try to figure out how each works.


To do so, we use approaches anchored in evolutionary psychology and clinical science to examine a model of specific phobia (Jacobs & Nadel, 1985), panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, and related anxiety disorders (Jacobs & Nadel, 1998, 1999; Metcalfe & Jacobs, 1996, 1998, 2000; Nadel & Jacobs 1996, 1998), and self regulation (e.g., Metcalfe & Mischel, 1999).


We hope our work lets us understand what this emotional state is, how it may go out of control, and how we may bring it back under control.  If we are lucky, skilled, and focused, this work will serve as the basis of interventions that help alleviate psychological problems associated with fear and anxiety.

Quick Links

C-G Arena: Software controlling the computer-generated arena -- used to study human spatial cognition. This is the latest stable version.

Java Arena:This is the newest version of the C-G Arena. It contains support for 3D objects, lighting, 3rd person perspective, and a swath of other cool stuff. It's still in development so all we have is a demo, albeit a very cool demo. Go ahead, download it (circ 3MB).  Also download the SGI OpenGL drivers (don't worry, it's just a set of software OpenGL drivers, so it won't mess anything up on your computer).

fMRI: Shameless plug of the webmaster. :)  We have combined results from fMRI, lesion studies, and Structured Equation Modeling, and the C-G Arena to characterize the neural correlates of spatial cognition and navigation (including wayfinding) in humans.

Intro | People | Arena | Projects | Theory | Empirical | Classes | Links

Credits: ARG logo by Dianne Karalunas, webpage design and other images by Ming Hsu, and content by all the members of the Anxiety Research Group.

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