Mark J. Starr, Ph.D.

Psychologist, Southern Arizona VA Health Care System

Mark Starr

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2018
M.S., University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2009
B.A., University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, 2005

Office: 325 Psychology

Curriculum Vitae
Follow me on: NCBI     Twitter @MarkJStarr

Research Interests
The long-term goal of my research is to help make addiction treatments more effective and available for more people. My hope is that by clarifying what addiction is, how drugs of abuse change us, and how current treatments work that we’ll be able to offer better care to our patients.

My recent work has been motivated by three questions:
1. How does our response to stress make us vulnerable and/or protect us from becoming addicted to drugs of abuse?
2. How do drugs of abuse change our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in ways that make unhealthy and risky behaviors – like continued drug use – more likely?
3. How, and for whom, do treatments for addiction work?

The methods I use are multidisciplinary, but draw primarily from recent developments in psychology, neuroscience, and statistics. I focus on the psychological processes (e.g., emotion, perception, decision-making, etc.) that are affected by drug use and abuse and I use a combination of behavioral, self-report, and physiological (e.g., EEG, EMG, etc.) methods to measure them. A portion of my research is aimed at refining how we quantify these measurements and the methods we use to analyze them.

Current Projects

  • Alcohol and decision-making
  • Marijuana withdrawal and decision-making
  • Drug withdrawal and the affective response to repeated stressors
  • Alcohol effects on the affective and cognitive responses to stress
  • Empirical comparisons of methods of quantifying and analyzing startle potentiation


  • Hefner KR, Starr MJ, Curtin JJ (2015). Altered subjective reward valuation among drug-deprived heavy marijuana users: Aversion to uncertainty. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 2015 Nov 23. [Epub ahead of print] PDF | OSF
  • Bradford DE, Starr MJ, Shackman AJ, Curtin JJ (2015). Empirically based comparisons of the reliability and validity of common quantification approaches for eyeblink startle potentiation in humans. Psychophysiolology, 52, 1669-1681. PDF | OSF
  • De Vries M, Holland RW, Chenier T, Starr MJ, Winkielman P (2011). Happiness cools the warm glow of familiarity: Psychophysiological evidence that mood modulates the familiarity-affect link. Psychological Science. 21, 321–328.
  • Burman MA, Starr MJ, Gewirtz JC (2006). Dissociable Effects of Hippocampus Lesions on Expression of Fear and Retrieval of Trace Fear Conditioning in Rats. Hippocampus, 16(2):103-13.

Recent Posters

  • Bradford DE, Moberg CA, Starr MJ, Motschman C, Korhumel R, Curtin JJ (2013). Alcohol Induced Stress Neuroadaptation : Cross Sectional Evidence from Startle Potentiation and ERPs in Healthy Drinkers and Abstinent Alcoholics During Uncertain Threat. Psychophysiology, 50, S16.
  • Starr MJ, Bradford DE, Motschman C, Korhumel R, Curtin JJ (2012). Dose-dependent Effects of Alcohol on Attention to Certain and Uncertain Threat. Poster presented at the Society for Psychophysiological Research annual meeting, New Orleans, LA. PDF
  • Starr MJ, Bradford DE, Shackman AJ, Curtin JJ (2011). An Empirical Comparison of Commonly Used Methods of Quantifying Startle Potentiation. Poster presented at the annual meeting for the Society for Psychophysiological Research, Boston, MA. PDF