BRAIN and BEHAVIOR INITIATIVE WEEKLY DIGEST

March 9, 2020


UMD News

New research from a UMD psychologist helps explain how intractable conflict and revenge behavior between groups could have a basis in neurobiological mechanisms. The study found that when members of a group observe one of their own being hurt by a member of another group, it activates a complex response that includes a release of oxytocin.

News

Researchers at Texas A&M University are developing a wearable continuous monitoring tool to help students manage their mental health. The tool uses advanced machine learning and a wide range of sensors provided on commercial off-the-shelf smartwatches to detect signs and symptoms of high anxiety and direct the smartwatch wearer to resources. The device would be triggered by negative indicators, such as anxiety patterns of heart rate and self-reports by the wearer.
Over recent decades, rodent studies have suggested that the brain may store memories in unique neuronal firing sequences. Now, in a study of epilepsy patients, researchers have found that the firing patterns of the cells that occurred when patients learned a word pair were replayed fractions of a second before they successfully remembered the pair. The results suggest that the brain may use distinct sequences of neural spiking activity to store memories and then replay them when remembering past experience.
Researchers report an advance in the development of a blood test that could help detect pathological Alzheimer’s disease in people who are showing signs of dementia. This approach could be less invasive and less costly than current brain imaging and spinal fluid tests. The blood test detects the abnormal accumulation of a form of tau protein known as phosphorylated-tau-181 (ptau181), which is a biomarker that suggests brain changes from Alzheimer’s.
Getting plenty of deep, restful sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. Now comes word of yet another way that sleep is good for us: it triggers rhythmic waves of blood and cerebrospinal fluid that appear to function much like a washing machine’s rinse cycle, which may help to clear the brain of toxic waste on a regular basis. The video here uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to take you inside a person’s brain to see this newly discovered rinse cycle in action.
Every Fourth of July, the thunderous crack of the neighbors’ fireworks is quickly followed by a wailing chorus of frightened dogs. New research suggests that some dogs' sensitivity to such noise is the most common form of anxiety in pet dogs. The study—the largest ever on canine temperaments—also finds that some breeds are prone to certain anxious behaviors, including aggression, separation anxiety, and fear. The results could help uncover new ways to tackle these traits.
The “mouth” of a Venus flytrap bears several trigger hairs, multicellular spikes that send electrical impulses across the lobes of the trap when bent by contact with an object. But how can the plants can tell dinner from debris? Using a tiny force meter in combination with electrophysiological recordings to capture action potentials, researchers measured the trigger hairs’ responses to ants walking across the trap leaves. They report that the force applied to the trigger hairs matters less than how far and how quickly they are bent.
Researchers and therapists have long known that people who can’t speak after a brain injury, including stroke, can usually sing. For the majority of the population, words and music are produced in similar ways but on opposite sides of the brain—speech on the left and song on the right. However, speech and music also share a network, and studies have found that singing can help rebuild speech pathways.
Cognitive decline is associated with hearing loss, which affects more than 70 percent of people over 70 years old, and hearing loss has been identified as a risk factor for dementia. However, according to promising new research, wearing hearing aids may delay this cognitive decline in older adults and improve brain function. Women in particular showed significant improvements in working memory when wearing hearing aids.
NCCIH will host three lectures this spring by Center-funded investigators on “Novel Approaches at the Intersection of Mental Health and Pain.” The seminars will take place on March 24, May 11, and June 30, and their topics include Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE), Cooperative Pain Education and Self-Management (COPES), and how light influences mental and physical health.

Recent Resources from the NIH

Although the FORMS-F version of our grant application forms won’t be used until due dates on or after May 25, 2020, preparation for their use is well underway. Look over the significant changes section here to familiarize yourself with what’s new.
In December 2018, the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director offered a number of recommendations to NIH on the “Next Generation Researchers Initiative.”  Among those: the committee recommended special funding consideration for “at-risk” investigators.
This installment of the NIH’s All About Grants podcast discusses NIH’s interest in diversifying the research workforce, how this interest manifests in funding opportunities, who is eligible to apply, and how diversity supplements can help someone’s career.

This Week's Events

Business Fundamentals for Scientists Series
Speaker: Harry Geller (University of Maryland)
Title: "Quick Scaling Your Way to Entrepreneurship"
Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: Diamondback Garage, Suite B
More info

LabRoots' 8th Annual Neuroscience Virtual Conference
Title: Panels featuring NIH BRAIN Initiative speakers
Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Location: Webinar
More info

Materials Science and Engineering Special Seminar
Speaker: Miaofang Chi (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)
Title: "Beyond structural and chemical imaging in a TEM: New opportunities for understanding interfaces in energy materials"
Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Time: 12 noon
Location: 1111 Kim Engineering Building
More info

Developmental Science Colloquium
Speaker: Allan Wigfield (University of Maryland)
Title: "Expectancy-Value Theory, Motivation Interventions, Grit, and New Ventures: Reflections on 40 Years of Research"
Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Location: 1107 Benjamin Building
More info

NSF CAREER Panel
Title: "NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Informational Panel"
Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Location: Maryland Rescue & Fire Institute (directions)
More info

Language Science Lunch Talks
Speaker: Adam Fishbein (University of Maryland)
Title: "Sequence in birdsong: What humans assume and what birds are telling us"
Date: Thursday, March 12, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Location: 2130 H. J. Patterson Building
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.**
 
Over the past several years, the NIH Center for Scientific Review has heard consistent concerns about the complexity of review criteria and administrative load of peer review. To address these concerns, CSR has convened a working group of our advisory council, charged with recommending changes to research project grant review criteria that will improve review outcomes and reduce reviewer burden. We would like to hear your thoughts on the issue. How might review criteria be modified to obtain the best evaluations of scientific merit? 
 
This Request for Information (NOT-OD-20-059) is intended to gather broad public input on important new directions for health-related behavioral and social science research (BSSR). Specifically, OBSSR requests your input on research directions that will support the achievement of the scientific priorities in the OBSSR Strategic Plan and that will advance or transform the broader health impact of BSSR. Responses due March 29, 2020.
 
The NIH invites applications (RFA-AG-21-008) for the next 5-year cycle of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to include a sixth wave of data collection (Wave VI). Add Health is a nationally representative, longitudinal study of individuals primarily born from 1976 through 1982 who were first interviewed as adolescents in grades 7-12 (ages 12-19) in 1994-1995. Applications due May 18, 2020.
 
*New!* This Notice (NOT-DA-20-005) invites innovative research to characterize the consequences of psychosocial factors on mechanisms of action and determinants of vulnerability and/or resilience to substance use disorder (SUD). Research using basic or clinical approaches is appropriate. Applies to due dates on or after June 5, 2020.
 
*New!* The purpose of this Notice (NOT-DA-20-039) is to encourage investigators to submit grant applications to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)to study the effects of cannabis and cannabinoid exposure on the developing brain, from pre-, peri-, and post-natal development through young adulthood in humans and using animal models. Applies to due dates on or after June 5, 2020.
 
*New!* This Notice (NOT-DA-20-030) encourages applications for research projects that identify, validate and/or functionally characterize loci, genetic variations and haplotypes that are associated with vulnerability to addiction and that potentially inform the likelihood of responsiveness to treatment. Applies to due dates on or after June 5, 2020.
 
*New!* The purpose of this Notice (NOT-DA-20-017) is to encourage research project applications aimed at developing and/or implementing specialized software for tracking, characterization, and analysis of Substance Use Disorder (SUD)-related behaviors. Applies to due dates on or after June 5, 2020.
 
The NIA invites applications (RFA-AG-21-016) for 3-year planning projects for trials in either of two age ranges (25 to 49 or 50 and greater) to determine the effects of sustained (e.g. 5-year) caloric restriction and other interventions that modify the amount, timing, or composition of nutrient intake on risk factors for aging-related conditions and mechanisms that may influence health span and longevity. Applications due July 23, 2020.
 
The NIH solicits applications to develop standards that describe experimental protocols that are being conducted as part of the BRAIN Initiative (RFA-MH-20-128). The developed standard is expected to be broadly disseminated for use and widely available. Applications due September 3, 2020.

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