EBI is virtual center focused on understanding how emotions work in the brain and educating the public about the science of emotion. EBI researchers are located at the Nathan Kline Institute (NKI) in Orangeburg, NY, and at the Washington Square Campus of NYU, and at the NYU Langone School of Medicine, both in Manhattan. Through the support of the NY State Office of Mental Health, new laboratories for EBI research are being constructed at NKI. The Director of EBI is Dr. Joseph LeDoux, a University Professor, and a Professor of Neural Science, Psychology, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU.
A major emphasis of the EBI laboratories at NKI and NYU is on studies of fear and anxiety. Over the past several decades great strides have been made in understanding the neurobiology of fear in animal models. Because the core circuits of fear are highly conserved in mammals, this information applies to the human brain as well. This focus on fear and anxiety reflects the importance of these emotions to daily life. While fear and anxiety are normal responses to threatening events, when fear and anxiety are expressed beyond the extent called for by the situation, a fear/anxiety disorder exists. More than 40 million Americans suffer from fear/anxiety disorders, at a cost of more than $50 billion per year. Because these disorders do not necessarily remove people from their societal roles, fearful anxious children often remain in schools and adults remain in the workforce, though in compromised states. Anxiety also makes depression, schizophrenia, autism, mental retardation, eating disorders, and drug addiction worse by facilitating worry and causing memory and attention deficits. In addition, it can exacerbate the effects of other medical problems such as cancer or heart disease by potentiating the effects of stress and compromising immune reactions. Research at EBI on fear and anxiety, and stress in general, aims to improve our understanding of these disorders and identify new treatment options.