BRAIN and BEHAVIOR INITIATIVE WEEKLY DIGEST

January 27, 2020


This Wednesday! fNIRS Seminar

Please join BBI for a seminar and demonstration of Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) by Dr. Afrouz Anderson on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at 1 p.m. in 0215 Edward St. John Center.
 
Learning, language acquisition, sensory and motor functions, emotion, social interactions, and the influence of a host of disease processes can all be explored via the fNIRS signal. Dr. Anderson's talk will cover the core concepts of fNIRS, its applications in clinical research, experimental and analytical considerations as well as multimodal imaging.

Recent Resources from NIH

The revised NIH Grants Policy Statement has been published, replacing the October 2018 version as a standard terms and conditions of awards. This revision applies to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements with budget periods beginning on or after October 1, 2019.
Funding decisions rely heavily on peer review scores, but there is more to the story. NIH Institutes and Centers weigh those scores together with ensuring their entire research portfolio addresses the wide array of diseases, conditions, or other research areas within its mission.
If 2020 has you looking for an opportunity to learn more about working with NIH extramural research, then consider an NIH seminar on program funding and grants administration. These seminars provide the latest policy and process information as well as guidance and resources from NIH and HHS experts.

News

You might think nutrient-sensing cells in the human GI tract would have no connection whatsoever to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). But these GI cells, called neuropods, could one day help provide a direct link to understanding and treating some aspects of autism and other brain disorders. One researcher recently discovered that cells in the intestine, previously known for their hormone-releasing ability, form extensions similar to neurons, and these extensions connect to nerve fibers in the gut that relay signals to the vagus nerve and onward to the brain.
When you think camouflage, you probably don’t imagine a gleaming turquoise bug that might be mistaken for a fancy brooch. But that’s the surprisingly perfect disguise for the jewel beetle. Scientists previously assumed that iridescent creatures such as dragonflies and some butterflies developed their majestic coloration to attract mates or to warn predators not to eat them because they are poisonous. But a counterintuitive theory first proposed 100 years ago posits that iridescence might instead be a form of camouflage, and a recent study confirms now this theory.
To investigate how the brain processes the distinct basic component of emotional states, researchers asked a group of 15 volunteers to express, define, and rate their emotions while watching the movie Forrest Gump. The volunteers reported scene by scene their feelings and their respective strength on a scale from 1 to 100. Then their answers were compared to those of 15 other persons who had watched the same movie during a fMRI study. The scientists found that the entire set of our emotions is topographically represented in a small region of the brain, a three-centimeter area of the cortex.
Understanding the array of neural signals that occur as an organism makes a decision is a challenge. To tackle it, the authors of a study published last week in Cell imaged large swaths of the larval zebrafish brain as the animals decided which way to move their tails to avoid an undesirable situation. Finding patterns in the data, they were then able to use imaging to predict—10 seconds in advance—the timing and direction of the fish’s movement. The size of the larval zebrafish allowed researchers access to the entire brain of the transparent vertebrae with single-cell resolution.
A team of researchers visited a half dozen multi-day arts and music festivals in the United States and United Kingdom and asked attendees who were not then under the influence of psychedelics about their recent social experiences, mood, and substance use. By surveying them, the researchers were able to characterize the psychological effects of the “afterglow” of psychedelic experiences. The team found that people who had recently used psychedelics such as psilocybin reported a sustained improvement in mood and feeling closer to others after the high had worn off.
Researchers have identified a protein complex that both attracts and repels neurons during brain development. The three proteins Teneurin, Latrophilin, and FLRT hold together and bring neighboring neurons into close contact, enabling the formation of synapses and the exchange of information between the cells. However, in the early phase of brain development, the interaction of the same proteins leads to the repulsion of migrating nerve cells. The detailed insight into the molecular guidance mechanisms of brain cells was possible due to the structural analyses of the protein complex.
Anyone who has desperately searched their kitchen cabinets for a piece of forgotten chocolate knows that the desire for palatable food can be hard to control. But is it really addiction? A study that imaged the brains of minipigs before and after consuming sugar water has drawn comparisons between sugar's effect on the brain and that of addictive drugs. The study was based on experiments done using seven pigs receiving two liters of sugar water daily over a 12-day period. After just 12 days of sugar intake, the researchers saw major changes in the brain's dopamine and opioid systems.
A new study demonstrates that the balance between the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine may affect whether or not a person develops social anxiety disorder. Previous studies have focused on either the serotonin or the dopamine system individually, but now researchers argue that an imbalance between serotonin and dopamine transporters in the amygdala and other brain areas important for fear, motivation, and social behavior contribute to the development of social anxiety.
A professor finishes a lecture and checks his computer. A software program shows that most students lost interest about 30 minutes into the lecture—around the time he went on a tangent. The professor makes a note to stop going on tangents. While the technology for this fictional classroom scene doesn’t yet exist, scientists are working toward making it a reality. In a paper published this month, researchers described an artificial intelligence system that analyzes students’ emotions based on video recordings of the students’ facial expressions.

Calendar of Events

Educational Psychology Colloquium
Speaker: Luke Butler (University of Maryland)
Title: "The Empirical Child? A Framework for Investigating How Children Learn to Engage in the Scientific Process"
Date: Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Time: 12:45 p.m.
Location: 3233 Benjamin Building
More info

fNIRS Seminar
Speaker: Afrouz Anderson (NIRx Medical Technologies)
Title: "Application of Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Toward Understanding the Neurocognitive Function"
Date: Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Location: 0215 Edward St. John Center
More info

Linguistics Colloquium
Speaker: Hannah Sande (Georgetown University)
Title: "Cophonologies by Phase: Phases as the domain of phonological evaluation"
Date: Friday, January 31, 2020
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location: 1310 Marie Mount Hall
More info


Funding Announcements

**Below is a list of recent funding announcements; a running compendium of open FOAs can be found at bbi.umd.edu/news/FOA.**
 
*New!* The purpose of this Notice (NOT-OD-20-058) is to inform the research community of the NIH requirement to adhere to the Revised Common Rule to use a single IRB for NIH-supported multi-site studies conducting research at more than one domestic site. Effective January 20, 2020.
 
The Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood invites applications for grants supporting Research on Improving the Welfare of Young Children through identifying models that provide creative and caring environments; improve the quality of both early childhood teaching and learning; or teach parents about developmental psychology, cultural child rearing differences, pedagogy, issues of health, prenatal care and diet, as well as programs which provide both cognitive and emotional support to parents. Letters of intent due January 31, 2020
 
The NIH and NIAAA invite R01 applications for the Development and Application of PET and SPECT Imaging Ligands as Biomarkers for Drug Discovery and for Pathophysiological Studies of CNS Disorders (PAR-20-037 and PAR-20-038) by imaging the rodent and nonhuman primate brain and incorporating pilot or clinical feasibility evaluations in pre-clinical studies and appropriate model development. Standard application due dates apply—February 5, 2020, June 5, 2020, etc.
 
The Simons Foundation invites applications for its Young Investigator Fellowships in Neuroscience program supporting cutting-edge investigations by highly promising, early career scientists. Applications due February 15, 2020.
 
The American Psychological Foundation invites applications for its Trauma Psychology Research Grants supporting innovative work to alleviate trauma. Applications are due February 15, 2020.
 
*New!* The New York Stem Cell Foundation invites applications from early career investigators to its Neuroscience Investigator Awards supporting bold and innovative scientists with the potential to transform the field of neuroscience. Applications due February 19, 2020.
 
*New!* The NIH HEAL Initiative (RFA-AT-20-004) encourages UG3/UH3 phased cooperative research applications to conduct efficient, large-scale pragmatic or implementation trials to improve pain management and reduce the unnecessary use of opioid medications. Awards made under this FOA will initially support a one-year, milestone-driven, planning phase (UG3), with possible transition to an implementation phase (UH3) of up to 4 years duration (5 years total for the two phases). Letters of Intent due February 29, 2020. Applications due March 30, 2020.
 
*New!* The American Psychological Association's Esther Katz Rosen Fund seeks proposals to support activities related to the advancement and application of knowledge about gifted children. Applications due March 1, 2020.
 
*New!* The Massage Therapy Foundation invites applications for its Research Support Grants funding high-quality, independent research that investigates massage therapy as a wellness, medical, or mental health treatment and/or prevention intervention. Applications due March 2, 2020.
 
The NSF Linguistics Program Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Awards support basic science in the domain of human language, encompassing investigations of the grammatical properties of individual human languages, and in the areas including syntax, linguistic semantics and pragmatics, morphology, phonetics, and phonology. Applications due July 15, 2020.
 
*New!* The NIH issues Notice NOT-MH-20-030 to extend RFA-MH-20-310, BRAIN Initiative: Non-Invasive Neuromodulation - New Tools and Techniques for Spatiotemporal Precision (R01 Clinical Trial Optional), which solicits grant applications in two related but distinct areas: the development and testing of novel tools and methods of neuromodulation that go beyond the existing forms of neural stimulation, and the optimization of existing stimulation methods. Applications due February 14, 2020 and October 15, 2020.

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