William A. Truitt, PhD
Associate Professor of Anatomy & Cell Biology
2000 - Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Neurobiology, University of Cincinnati, School of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH.
2003 - Assistant Scientist, Department of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN.
2004 - Assistant Lecturer, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN.
2004 - Assistant Research Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN.
2008 - Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN.
2016 - Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN.
Titles & Appointments
- Adjunct Associate Research Professor of Psychiatry
Our lab is interested in cognitive override of emotions, with the aim of determining how social interactions can be used to overcomes anxiety, in hopes that we can contribute to elucidating the neural mechanism by which psychotherapy helps patients overcome anxiety. Our laboratory utilizes an animal model where rats learn to overcome anxiety-like behavior with the aid of social familiarity. We discovered that rats learn to reduce anxiety-like responses to fearful stimuli after repeated social training sessions with a familiar rat. We refer to this phenomenon as Social Familiarity-induced Anxiolysis (SoFiA). Here the anxiolysis (reduced anxiety) is dependent on social familiarity and establishing social familiarity in the presence of anxiety stimuli. Interestingly, these key components of our animal model are also two of the most important factors in predicting success of effective forms of psychotherapies [e.g. exposure therapies for phobias and prolonged exposure therapy for treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)]. 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. Interestingly the medial prefrontal cortex is also critical for expression of the SoFiA effect in our model. Using this model in combination with neuroanatomical, behavioral pharmacology and innovative molecular tools our research is now focused on elucidate the detailed neurocircuitry and mechanisms that regulate SoFiA acquisition and expression.