University of Vermont

University Communications


Associate Professor
Arts & Sciences
Phone:See PR Contact
Public Relations:Lee Ann Cox (802) 656-1107;
Specialty:neurobiology of learning; memory & emotion; Pavlovian fear conditioning; anxiety; psychology
Biography:Falls is an associate professor of psychology and has been the recipient of grants from the National Institute of Mental Health. Falls' research is focused on examining the neurobiology of learning, memory and emotion. He uses Pavlovian fear conditioning procedures to examine the neural systems involved in the acquisition, expression and inhibition of conditioned fear and has been recently conducting research examining the mechanism through which physical exercise reduces anxiety and improves learning and memory. Anxiety disorders, such as specific phobias and PTSD, may reflect pathological fear responses acquired through Pavlovian conditioning. Individuals with these disorders exhibit exaggerated fear and anxiety in certain situations. Falls examines these neural systems to better understand the etiology of these disorders and to develop new and more effective treatments for reducing fear and anxiety. Recent publications include: Waddell, J. Dunnett, C. & Falls, W.A. (2004). C57BL/6J and DBA/2J mice differ in extinction and renewal of extinguished fear. Behavioural Brain Research 154(2):567-76 . Jaworski DM. Boone J. Caterina J. Soloway P. Falls WA. (2005). Prepulse inhibition and fear-potentiated startle are altered in tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-2 (TIMP-2) knockout mice. Brain Research. 1051, 81-9. Heldt, S.A. & Falls, W.A. (2006). The Effects of Posttraining Lesions of the Auditory Thalamus and Cortex on the Inhibition of Fear Conditioned to an Auditory Stimulus. European Journal of Neuroscience. 23(3):765-779.