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Truitt Lab

The research lab of William A. Truitt, PhD, is focused on determining how social interactions can be used to overcome anxiety. This lab team hopes to contribute to elucidating the neural mechanism by which psychotherapy helps patients overcome anxiety.

Active Research

Truitt’s laboratory utilizes animal models, where rats learn to overcome anxiety-like behavior with the aid of social familiarity. Investigators here discovered that rats learn to reduce anxiety-like responses to fearful stimuli after repeated social training sessions with a familiar rat. This phenomenon is referred to as Social Familiarity-induced Anxiolysis (SoFiA). The reduced anxiety is dependent on social familiarity and establishing social familiarity in the presence of anxiety stimuli.

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These key components of the animal model are also two of the most important factors in predicting success of effective forms of psychotherapies, including exposure therapies for phobias and prolonged exposure therapy for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. The effectiveness of psychotherapies and other methods of cognitive suppression of anxiety are also known to utilize a specific portion of the frontal lobe, the medial prefrontal cortex, which is also critical for expression of the SoFiA effect in the model. Using this model in combination with neuroanatomical, behavioral pharmacology and innovative molecular tools, Truitt’s research is now focused on elucidating the detailed neurocircuitry and mechanisms that regulate SoFiA acquisition and expression.

Research Funding

As PI: Neural regulation of social familiarity induced anxiolysis. NIH, NIMH, R01 MH106568

Mechanisms and rehab strategies for social and psychological impairments induced by mTBI. Indiana Spinal Cord And Brain Injury Fund, contract #19920

As Co-I: Molecular mechanisms and therapeutics development for social and communication learning deficits in NF1. (PIs Shekhar & Clapp) DOD, IIRA NF150083

Neurobiology of anxiety and panic disorders. (PI Shekhar) NIH, NIMH NIH R01 MH052619

Biological basis of conditioned cues effects on etoh-seeking. (PI Rodd) NIH, NIAAA R01 AA020908

Recent Publications

A full list of Truitt’s publication history is available on PubMed.

  • 2016

    Federici LM, Caliman IF, Molosh AI, Fitz SD, Truitt WA, Bonaventure P, Carpenter JS, Shekhar A, Johnson PL. Hypothalamic orexin’s role in exacerbated cutaneousvasodilation responses to an anxiogenic stimulus in a surgical menopause model.Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016; 65:127-37. NIHMSID: NIHMS749653 PubMed [journal] PMID: 26765933, PMCID: PMC4752911

  • 2015
    Deehan GA Jr, Hauser SR, Waeiss RA, Knight CP, Toalston JE, Truitt WA, McBrideWJ, Rodd ZA. Co-administration of ethanol and nicotine: the enduring alterations in the rewarding properties of nicotine and glutamate activity within themesocorticolimbic system of female alcohol-preferring (P) rats. Psychopharmacology. 2015; 232(23):4293-302. NIHMSID: NIHMS788722 PubMed [journal]PMID: 26306917, PMCID: PMC4899841

    Truitt WA, Hauser SR, Deehan GA Jr, Toalston JE, Wilden JA, Bell RL, McBride WJ, Rodd ZA. Ethanol and nicotine interaction within the posterior ventral tegmental area in male and female alcohol-preferring rats: evidence of synergy anddifferential gene activation in the nucleus accumbens shell. Psychopharmacology. 2015; 232(3):639-49. NIHMSID: NIHMS623501 PubMed [journal] PMID: 25155311, PMCID:PMC4516277

  • 2014
    Lungwitz EA, Stuber GD, Johnson PL, Dietrich AD, Schartz N, Hanrahan B, ShekharA, Truitt WA. The role of the medial prefrontal cortex in regulating socialfamiliarity-induced anxiolysis.  Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication ofthe American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014; 39(4):1009-19. PubMed[journal] PMID: 24157502, PMCID: PMC3924535

    Toalston JE, Deehan GA Jr, Hauser SR, Engleman EA, Bell RL, Murphy JM, Truitt WA, McBride WJ, Rodd ZA. Reinforcing properties and neurochemical response of ethanolwithin the posterior ventral tegmental area are enhanced in adulthood byperiadolescent ethanol consumption. The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. 2014; 351(2):317-26. PubMed [journal] PMID: 25150280, PMCID:PMC4201272

    Hauser SR, Bracken AL, Deehan GA Jr, Toalston JE, Ding ZM, Truitt WA, Bell RL, McBride WJ, Rodd ZA. Selective breeding for high alcohol preference increases thesensitivity of the posterior VTA to the reinforcing effects of nicotine. Addiction biology. 2014; 19(5):800-11. NIHMSID: NIHMS451047 PubMed [journal]PMID: 23496648, PMCID: PMC3715585

  • 2013
    Deehan GA Jr, Hauser SR, Wilden JA, Truitt WA, Rodd ZA. Elucidating thebiological basis for the reinforcing actions of alcohol in the mesolimbicdopamine system: the role of active metabolites of alcohol. Frontiers inbehavioral neuroscience. 2013; 7:104. PubMed [journal] PMID: 23986666, PMCID:PMC3750600

    Molosh AI, Sajdyk TJ, Truitt WA, Zhu W, Oxford GS, Shekhar A. NPY Y1 receptorsdifferentially modulate GABAA and NMDA receptors via divergentsignal-transduction pathways to reduce excitability of amygdala neurons. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College ofNeuropsychopharmacology. 2013; 38(7):1352-64. PubMed [journal] PMID: 23358240,PMCID: PMC3656378

  • 2012
    Lungwitz EA, Molosh A, Johnson PL, Harvey BP, Dirks RC, Dietrich A, Minick P,Shekhar A, Truitt WA. Orexin-A induces anxiety-like behavior through interactionswith glutamatergic receptors in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis of rats. Physiology & behavior. 2012; 107(5):726-32. NIHMSID: NIHMS387398 PubMed [journal]PMID: 22652097, PMCID: PMC3482273

    Johnson PL, Molosh A, Fitz SD, Truitt WA, Shekhar A. Orexin, stress, andanxiety/panic states. Progress in brain research. 2012; 198:133-61. NIHMSID:NIHMS446869 PubMed [journal] PMID: 22813973, PMCID: PMC3665356

Faculty Research Team

15720-Truitt, William

William A. Truitt, PhD

Associate Professor of Anatomy, Cell Biology & Physiology

Read Bio William A. Truitt, PhD

Additional Research Team Members

Other research team members in the Truitt Lab include Amy Dietrich (Research Associate), Elizabeth (Betsy) Lungwitz (PhD candidate), Katharine Andrews (MD/PhD student) and Sreeparn  Majumdar (PhD candidate).