Christine Larson

Associate Professor

Office: Garland Hall 217
Phone: (414) 229-4996
Web Site:


Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2003

Research Interests:

My laboratory, the Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, is dedicated to understanding the neural bases of healthy and pathological emotional processing. Currently, my research program has two main foci: individual differences in emotional processing which confer risk for psychopathology, particularly anxiety or depression, and characterizing the nature of stimuli in the environment which serve as signals for different types of emotions. I use neuroimaging, psychophysiological, behavioral, and self-report tools to examine affective processing broadly, including the time course, intensity, and regulation of affective responses. As such, my work sits at the intersection of emotion, psychopathology, and neuroscience research.

Current research questions include:

  • Can the time course of affective response usefully index individual differences related to risk and resilience for psychopathology?
    • Are symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with prolonged experience of negative affect? What are the neural correlates of this phenomenon?
    • Are some forms of anxiety associated with rapid onset of fear? Can this be identified at the level of the brain?
    • What, if anything, distinguishes worry and rumination? Are there separable neural instantiations of these two processes?
  • Can visual signals of threat and happiness be reduced to fundamental underlying properties, such as their underlying geometry? Do brain regions implicated in recognition and experience of threat and happiness respond to simple geometric shapes?

Courses Taught:

Psych 412: Psychopathology
Psych 611: The Science of Human Emotions
Psych 912: Developmental Psychopathology

Recent Publications:

Taubitz, L., Robinson, J.S., & Larson, C.L. (in press). Modulation of the startle reflex across time by unpleasant pictures distinguishes dysphoric from non-dysphoric women. International Journal of Psychophysiology.

Baskin-Sommers, A.R., Curtin, J.J, Larson, C.L., Stout, D, Kiehl, K. & Newman, J.P. (in press). Characterizing the Anomalous Cognition-Emotion Interactions in Externalizing. Biological Psychology. 

Larson, C.L., Aronoff, J., & Steuer, E.L.(2012). Simple geometric shapes are implicitly associated with affective value. Motivation and Emotion, 36,404-413.

Shields, M.R., Larson, C.L., Swartz, A.M., & Smith, J.C. (2011). Visual threat detection during moderate and high intensity exercise. Emotion, 11, 572-581.

Larson, C.L., Taubitz, L., & Robinson, J. S. (2010). MAOA T941G polymorphism and the time course of emotional recovery following unpleasant pictures. Psychophysiology, 47, 857-862.

LoBue, V., & Larson, C.L. (2010). What makes an angry face look so… angry? Examining the shape of threat in children and adults. Visual Cognition, 18, 1165-1178.

Robinson, J.S., & Larson, C.L. (2010). Are traumatic events necessary to elicit symptoms of posttraumatic stress? Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 2, 71-76.

Larson, C.L., Aronoff, J., Sarinopoulos, I.C., & Zhu, D.C. (2009). Recognizing threat: Simple geometric shapes activate neural circuitry underlying threat detection. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 21, 1523-1525.

Larson, C.L., Aronoff, J., & Stearns, J. (2007).The shape of threat: Simple geometric forms evoke rapid and sustained capture of attention. Emotion, 7, 526-534.

Burt, S.A., & Larson, C.L. (2007). Differential affective responses in those with aggressive versus non-aggressive antisocial behaviors. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 1481-1492.

Larson, C.L., Nitschke, J.B., & Davidson, R.J. (2007). Common and distinct patterns of affective response in dimensions of anxiety and depression. Emotion, 182-191.

Larson, C.L., Schaefer, H.S., Siegle, G.J., Jackson, C.A.B., Anderle, M.J., & Davidson, R.J. (2006). Fear is fast in phobic individuals: Amygdala activation in response to fear-relevant stimuli. Biological Psychiatry, 60, 410-417.