BRAIN and BEHAVIOR INITIATIVE WEEKLY DIGEST

January 7, 2019


News

A new electronic device developed at the University of Michigan can directly model the behaviors of a synapse, which is a connection between two neurons. For the first time, the way that neurons share or compete for resources can be explored in hardware without the need for complicated circuits.
Fifteen research teams of the PsychENCODE Consortium leveraged statistical power gained from a large sample size to discover the biological mechanisms by which changes in DNA work in the human brain to boost risk for mental disorders.
A recent study shows how neuron loss occurred when a cell’s waste disposal system, or autophagy, was slowed. This failure of autophagy in turn triggered the immune system to attack the animal’s own neurons--a much “messier” and more diffuse process than autophagy.
Past studies have shown that microbes in the environment can biochemically transform naturally occurring arsenic in soil or rocks. What researchers don’t know is what microbes in the human gut do with arsenic before it is absorbed into the body.
Amputation of one limb triggers a rapid electric response that reflects the injury in the opposite one, researchers find. The findings mean that researchers should rethink the standard practice of using uninjured limbs as controls for amputated ones.
Researchers implicate a brain region called the paracingulate sulcus in the experience of hallucinations. The findings shed light into why some people are more likely to hallucinate than others, and it provides a new target for treatment aimed at reducing the experience.
Previous studies have shown links between parental earnings and an overall increase in the volume of the brain’s grey matter. However, a new study shows that higher socioeconomic status in early childhood specifically has pronounced effects on two areas of the brain, the thalamus and striatum.
U.S. institutions awarded 54,664 research doctorate degrees in 2017, a slight decline from the prior year. However, the number of doctorates in science and engineering fields grew by two percent from 2016.
A framework for predicting and quantifying stereotypes; Happy childhood memories related to better health in later years; Telephone support helps maintain reduced sugary beverage intake.

Notable Conference

Neural Mechanisms of Acoustic Communication (Gordon Research Conference)
July 19 - 24, 2020
Newry, ME

Although the field of neuroscience has made enormous progress over recent years concerning the function of neural circuits, remarkably little is known about the mechanisms that enable social interactions. A notable exception, however, has been in the field of acoustic communication. From courtship songs of insects to human speech, most species have evolved specialized strategies for communication, and these behaviors are often critical for reproduction and survival. In each case, individuals receive the communicative sounds produced by other organisms in the environment and use this to guide future actions. Traditionally, these communication strategies have been investigated by distinct communities focusing on particular model systems, with minimal interaction across these siloed research efforts. By combining efforts, we can begin to reveal common principles that exist across species in order to arrive at a functional understanding of the neural circuitry enabling conspecific interactions.

The proposed Gordon Research Conference aims to bring together a highly interdisciplinary group of researchers across a variety of species (i.e., invertebrates, frogs, rodents, songbirds, cetaceans, bats, marmosets, humans) to break down the boundaries that exist across these communities. NMAC will bring together researchers with diverse experimental perspectives with the aim of understanding the neural mechanisms that underlie acoustic communication across the animal kingdom. Featured NMAC sessions will range from new computational methods for quantifying and modeling communication to innovative work aimed at manipulating and monitoring the neural circuitry involved in the perception and production of communication signals. NMAC will present leading work from several parallel efforts, helping to dissolve unnecessary barriers to progress and allowing for a better understanding of brain function in health and disease.

Calendar of Events

No events this week

Funding Announcements

Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems  (NCS): NSF invites the submission of educational neuroscience proposals to the NCS program. It notes that advances in our understanding of neural and cognitive systems can have significant implications for research on education. Through the Dear Colleague Letter: Stimulating Educational Neuroscientific Research through the Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems (NCS) program, it also seeks to foster the growth of a multidisciplinary community of researchers, including neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, engineers, computer scientists, and education researchers. Letter of Intent Deadline Date: January 8, 2019, FOUNDATIONS, FY2019 competition; Full Proposal Deadline Date: February 26, 2019, FOUNDATIONS and FRONTIERS, FY2019 competition. 
 
Biobehavioral Basis of Chronic Pain (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) (PA-18-944). Application Receipt/Submission Date(s): Standard dates apply, The first standard application due date for this FOA is February 5, 2019.  
 
Applying a Biopsychosocial Perspective to Self-Management of Chronic Pain (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) (PA-18-945). Application Receipt/Submission Date(s): Standard dates apply, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. The first standard application due date for this FOA is February 5, 2019.  

The Science & PINS Prize for Neuromodulation is awarded for innovative research that modulates neural activity through physical (electrical, magnetic, optical) stimulation of targeted sites in the nervous system with implications for translational medicine. Due March 15, 2019.

NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award (F99/K00) (RFA-NS-19-011). Application Receipt Date(s): December 13, 2018; April 15, 2019; December 13, 2019; April 15, 2020; December 15, 2020; April 15, 2021 , by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.

Predoctoral Training in Advanced Data Analytics for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (BSSR) - Institutional Research Training Program [T32] (RFA-OD-19-011) Application Receipt Date: May 25, 2019.

The Maryland Catalyst Fund program – formerly known as the Faculty Incentive Program – is the University of Maryland’s internal faculty research support program and a key resource in the university’s overall effort to expand its research activity, visibility and impact. The program aims to enable innovative research, to incentivize the pursuit of large, complex, and high-impact research initiatives, and to increase our competitiveness for extramural research awards.

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