Button to scroll to the top of the page.
Cisler, Josh

Josh M Cisler

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Department of Psychiatry


Office Location

Postal Address
AUSTIN, TX 78712

Dr. Josh Cisler received a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in 2010. His research at that time focused on emotional and cognitive mechanisms that mediate anxiety disorders. He completed a clinical internship at the Medical University of South Carolina through the National Crime Victim Research and Treatment Center, where his research focused on understanding risk factors for psychopathology following trauma, with a particular focus on assaultive events (e.g., physical and sexual assault). He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Brain Imaging Research Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where he received training in fMRI methodology and advanced computational approaches to imaging analysis. He was on the faculty of the Brain Imaging Research Center at UAMS from 2012-2016 and the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin Madison from 2016-2021. He joined the faculty of UT Austin’s Dell Medical Center in the Psychiatry department as the Associate Director of the Institute for Early Life Adversity Research. Most importantly, Josh is the proud owner of a golden retriever and a chocolate lab.

The overarching goal of our research is to understand the neurocircuitry that confers risk for psychopathology following traumatic event exposure. Existing neurocircuitry models of PTSD and trauma exposure mainly emphasize hyperactivation of the amygdala and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex to threat and hypoactivation of the medial and lateral PFC during fear inhibition and emotion regulation. While a large body of data supports these models, the goal of our research is to refine and expand these models to encompass important observations that are not well explained by these models.


Letkiewicz, A.M., Cochran, A.L., Privratsky, A.A., James, G.A., & Cisler, J.M. (2021). Value estimation and latent-state update-related neural activity during fear conditioning predict posttraumatic stress disorder symptom severity. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience.

Ahrenholtz, R., Hiser, J., Ross, M.C., Privratsky, A., Sartin-Tarm, A., James, G.A., Cisler, J.M. (2021). Unique Neurocircuitry Activation Profiles during Fear Conditioning and Extinction among Women with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research.

Crombie, K.M., Sartin-Tarm, A., Sellnow, K, Ahrenholtz, R., Lee, S., Matalamaki, M., Adams, T.G, Almassi, N.E, Hillard, C.J., Koltyn, K.F., Adams, T.G., & Cisler, J.M. (2021). Exercise-induced increases in Anandamide and BDNF during extinction consolidation contribute to reduced threat following reinstatement. Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Crombie, K.M., Sartin-Tarm, A., Sellnow, K, Ahrenholtz, R., Lee, S., Matalamaki, M., Adams, T.G, & Cisler, J.M. (2021). Moderate intensity exercise and consolidation of fear extinction learning among women with PTSD. Behaviour Research and Therapy.

Crombie, K.M., Ross, M.C., Letkiewicz, A.M., Sartin-Tarm, A., Cisler, J.M. (2021). Differential relationships of PTSD symptom clusters with cortical thickness and grey matter volumes among women with PTSD. Scientific Reports.

Ross, M.C., Sartin-Tarm, A., Crombie, K.C., & Cisler, J.M. (2021). Distinct structural correlates of early life trauma and PTSD are shared among adolescent girls and adult women. Neuropsychopharmacology.

Letkiewicz. A.M., Cochran, A.L., & Cisler, J.M. (in press). Frontoparietal Network Activity during Model-Based Reinforcement Learning Updates is Reduced Among Adolescents with Severe Sexual Abuse. Journal of Psychiatric Research.

Privratsky, A.A., Bush, K.A., Bach, D.R., Hahn, E.M., & Cisler, J.M. (in press). Filtering and model-based analysis independently improve skin-conductance response measures in the fMRI environment: validation in a sample of women with PTSD. International Journal of Psychopathology.

Ross, M.C., & Cisler, J.M. (in press). Altered large-scale functional brain organization in posttraumatic stress disorder: a comprehensive review of univariate network-level neurocircuitry models of PTSD. Neuroimage: Clinical