University of Wisconsin–Madison

John Curtin


(608) 262-0387

326 Psychology

Research Area(s)

Lab Website
Addiction Research Center

Research Interests
Dr. Curtin’s program of research focuses broadly on psychological and neural mechanisms that are involved in risk, prevention, and intervention for patients with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use disorders. He uses both non-clinical (recreational AOD users with no history of problems) and clinical (patients with AOD use disorders) samples. He regularly employs psychophysiological measures and pharmacological manipulations in the laboratory. More recently, He has marshaled the power of mobile technologies to monitor participants’ subjective experience, behavior, social interactions, and physiology during their day-to-day activities in their natural environment.

There are two broad aims of his program of research:

The first aim focuses on the role of stress circuits in the brain in the etiology and treatment of addiction. He has developed sensitive, translational (animal-to-human) psychophysiological assays to index activity in these stress circuits. He is using pharmacological manipulations to document adaptations in stress reactivity and to probe the neural mechanisms responsible for these adaptions following acute or chronic AOD use. He is using these same methods to examine the potential to repurpose existing pharmacotherapies to treat AOD use disorders.

The second, more recent aim focuses on the use of emerging mobile technologies to monitor and support alcohol or drug dependent patients following treatment. He is actively collaborating with colleagues in engineering and computer science to use machine learning approaches to develop dynamic, real-time relapse risk prediction models to optimize patients’ alcohol or drug abstinence efforts.

Representative Publications (Full Publication List)
Bradford DE, Curtin JJ, Piper ME (2015). Anticipation of smoking sufficiently dampens stress reactivity for nicotine deprived smokers. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 124(1), 128-36. PMC4332561. PDF

Baskin-Sommers AR, Curtin JJ, Newman JP (2015). Altering the Cognitive-Affective Dysfunctions of Psychopathic and Externalizing Offender Subtypes with Cognitive Remediation. Clinical Psychological Science, 3, 45-57. PMC4426343. PDF

Bradford DE, Kaye JT, Curtin JJ (2014). Not just noise: Individual differences in general startle reactivity predict startle reactivity to uncertain and certain threat. Psychophysiology, 51, 407-411. PMC3984356. PDF

+Baskin-Sommers* AR, Curtin JJ, Newman JP (2013). Emotion-Modulated Startle in Psychopathy: Clarifying Familiar Effects. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122, 458-468. PMC3640755. PDF

+Bradford* DE, Shapiro* BL, Curtin JJ (2013). How Bad Could It Be? Alcohol Dampens Stress Responses to Threat of Uncertain Intensity. Psychological Science, 24, 2541-2549. PMC3951286. PDF

+Hefner KR, Moberg* CA, Hachiya* LY, Curtin JJ (2013). Alcohol stress response dampening during imminent versus distal, uncertain threat. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 3, 756-769. PMC4047525. PDF

+Baskin-Sommers* A, Curtin JJ, Newman JP (2011). Specifying the attentional selection that moderates the fearlessness of psychopathic offenders. Psychological Science, 22, 226-234. PMC3358698. PDF

+Hogle* JM, Kaye* JT, Curtin JJ (2010). Nicotine withdrawal increases threat-induced anxiety but not fear: Neuroadaptation in human addiction. Biological Psychiatry, 68, 719-725. PMC2949532 PDF | Supplemental Information

+Newman JP, Curtin JJ, Bertsch* JD, Baskin-Sommers* AR (2010). Attention moderates the fearlessness of psychopathic offenders. Biological Psychiatry, 67, 66-70. PMC2795048. PDF

+Moberg* CA, Curtin JJ (2009). Alcohol selectively reduces anxiety but not fear: Startle response during unpredictable vs. predictable threat. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, 335-347. PMC2756160 PDF

+Dvorak-Bertsch* JD, Curtin JJ, Rubinstein* TJ, Newman JP (2009). Psychopathic traits moderate the interaction between cognitive and affective processing. Psychophysiology, 46, 913-921. PMC2746860. PDF

+Piper* ME, Curtin JJ (2006). Tobacco withdrawal and negative affect: An analysis of initial emotional response intensity and voluntary emotion regulation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 115, 96-102. PDF

Casbon TS, Curtin JJ, Lang AR, Patrick CJ (2003). Deleterious effects of alcohol intoxication: Diminished cognitive control and its behavioral consequences. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112, 476-487. PDF

+Curtin JJ, Fairchild* BA (2003). Alcohol and cognitive control: Implications for regulation of behavior during response conflict. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112, 424-436. PDF

+Curtin JJ, Patrick CJ, Lang AR, Cacioppo JT, Birbaumer N (2001). Alcohol affects emotion through cognition. Psychological Science, 12, 527-531. PDF.

Curtin JJ, Lang AR, Patrick CJ, Stritzke WGK (1998). Alcohol and fear-potentiated startle: The role of competing cognitive demands in the stress-reducing effects of intoxication. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 547-557. PDF

* Indicates undergraduate, graduate, or post-doctoral student working under my supervision.
+ Indicates project funded by intra- or extra-mural award for which I am the PI/MPI.