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Michael Davis, Ph.D.

Curriculum Vitae

Biographical Section

Name: Michael Davis
Degree(s): Ph.D.
Office Address: 4th Floor, WMB
1639 Pierce Dr
Atlanta, GA 30322
Telephone: (404) 727-3591 (Office)
(404) 727-3592 (Lab)
Email Address: (University)

Current Primary Academic Appointments

Hire Date: 11/2014 - Current Professor Emeritus Psychiatry Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta, GA

Current Joint & Secondary Appointments  

01/1998 - Current Professor Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Psychology Atlanta, Georgia
01/1998 - Current Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta, Georgia

Current Clinical Appointments  

Current Administrative Appointments  

Previous Academic Appointments  

Previous Clinical Appointments  

Previous Administrative Appointments  

Licensure & Board Certifications  

Specialty Boards  


1969 Ph.D., Experimental Psychology Yale University New Haven, CT, USA

Postgraduate Training  

Military/Government Service  

National & International Committee Memberships  

State & Regional Committee Memberships  

Institutional Committee Memberships  


Editorships & Editorial Boards  

Manuscript Reviewer  

Honors & Awards  

Society Memberships  

Organization of National/International Conferences: Administrative Positions  

Organization of National/International Conferences: Sessions as Chair  

Research Focus  

In our laboratory we study the physiological bases of learning and memory and brain areas involved in fear, anxiety and stress. To simplify this question, we work with a reflex behavior that is readily quantifiable and known to be altered by prior experience. In many species, including man, a loud noise elicits a startle response, which occurs very rapidly. We have determined the neural pathway that mediates acoustic startle in the rat, which consists of three synapses in the brainstem and spinal cord. Although startle is very fast and has a relatively simple circuit, it is exquisitely sensitive to changes in the environment, to drugs, as well as prior learning, such as fear conditioning. Startle thus provides a brainstem and spinal reflex system that is modulated by higher brain systems. Using electrical stimulation or single unit recording in unanesthetized animals we are determining the points within this pathway where certain environmental events, drugs, or prior learning affect neural transmission. Pathways involved in fear conditioning are being delineated using mechanical and chemical lesions, electrical brain stimulation and anterograde and retrograde tracing techniques. These involve sensory inputs to a part of the brain called the amygdala, which projects directly to the startle circuit. We have found that excitatory amino acid receptors in the amygdala play a critical role in fear conditioning. Currently we are evaluating the role of various second messenger systems in the amygdala in fear conditioning. We are also using viral vector gene transfer to over-express various proteins in the amygdala to see how they participate in fear conditioning. Other studies seek to determine where peptides, such as corticotropin releasing hormone, or dopamine agonists, act to increase startle amplitude, and whether different parts of the brain may be involved in fear vs. anxiety.

Patents Issued

Patents Pending

Active Grant Support: Federally Funded  

Active Grant Support: Private Foundation Funded  

Active Grant Support: Contracts  

Active Grant Support: Other  

Previous Grant Support: Federally Funded  

Previous Grant Support: Private Foundation Funded  

Previous Grant Support: Contracts  

Previous Grant Support: Other  

Clinical Service Contributions  

Formal Teaching: Medical Student  

Formal Teaching: Graduate Student  

Formal Teaching: Residency/Training Program  

Formal Teaching: Other (Physician's Assistant, Physical Therapist, etc.)  

Supervisory Teaching: Ph.D. Students Directly Supervised  

Supervisory Teaching: Post-doctoral Fellows Directly Supervised  

Supervisory Teaching: Residency Program  

Supervisory Teaching: Other  

Lectureships, Seminar Invitations, Visiting Professorships  

Invitations to National/International Conferences  

Community Service  

Other Activities  

Bibliography: Research Articles  

Bibliography: Manuscripts  

Bibliography: Article Reviews  

Bibliography: Book Reviews  

Bibliography: Symposium Contributions  

Bibliography: Books Edited and Written  

Bibliography: Films and Training Videos  

Bibliography: Training Manuals  

Bibliography: Software and Computer Programs  

Bibliography: Published Abstracts  

Bibliography: Other Publications  

© 2015 Emory University
Last Update: 05/28/2015