NSF funds new integrative approaches to study the brain

August 19, 2016

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded 18 grants to multidisciplinary teams from across the United States to conduct frontier research focused on neural and cognitive systems. Each award provides a research team with up to $1 million over two to four years.

The awards fall within four research themes:The first two themes were included in a first round of brain research funding in Fiscal Year 2015, when NSF announced 16 awards.

"Within each theme -- and as a collective -- we expect new advances in theory and methods, technological innovations, educational approaches, research infrastructure, and workforce development," said Betty Tuller, NSF program director in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate, who will help oversee the awards.

In addition to the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, three other NSF directorates will collaboratively support the awards: Computer & Information Science & Engineering; Education and Human Resources; and Engineering.

The projects will explore fundamental scientific and engineering queries, ranging from spatial navigation and memory optimization to neuromorphic computation. They are based on integrative strategies designed to transcend conventional perspectives and approaches, building on leading-edge research across multiple disciplines.

"Each project makes a scientific advance in multiple ways -- for example, contributing to computational modeling research as well as education research," said Evan Heit, division director in NSF's Education and Human Resources Directorate.

Complexities of brain and behavior

The 18 newly funded projects stem from the cross-disciplinary NSF Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems program, which supports bold efforts to go beyond single-discipline research efforts in order to advance brain science. The awards will contribute to NSF's significant investments in support of the BRAIN Initiative, a coordinated research effort that seeks to accelerate the development of new neurotechnologies.

"The complexities of brain and behavior pose fundamental questions in many areas of science and engineering," said Kenneth Whang, NSF program director in the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Directorate. "The mysteries of the brain draw intense interest across a broad spectrum of disciplinary perspectives yet elude explanation by any one of them, which is why team-based approaches are so necessary."

Alexander Leonessa, NSF program director in the Engineering Directorate, agreed on the value of the team-based approach.

"By encouraging collaborations among investigators from different disciplines, we were able to fund innovative, integrative, boundary-crossing proposals that can best capture the spirit of this opportunity," Leonessa said.

In addition, the program awarded supplemental funds of up to $200,000 each to 12 projects to connect basic research in computing, engineering and education to new challenges in neuroscience and cognitive science.

The 18 newly awarded projects are led by:
-end-
To learn more about NSF investments in fundamental brain research, visit NSF.gov/brain.

National Science Foundation

Related Neuroscience Articles from Brightsurf:

Researchers rebuild the bridge between neuroscience and artificial intelligence
In an article in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers reveal that they have successfully rebuilt the bridge between experimental neuroscience and advanced artificial intelligence learning algorithms.

The evolution of neuroscience as a research
When the first issue of the JDR was published, the field of neuroscience did not exist but over subsequent decades neuroscience has emerged as a scientific field that has particular relevance to dentistry.

Diabetes-Alzheimer's link explored at Neuroscience 2019
Surprising links exist between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, and researchers are beginning to unpack the pathology that connects the two.

Organoid research revealed at Neuroscience 2019
Mini-brains, also called organoids, may offer breakthroughs in clinical research by allowing scientists to study human brain cells without a human subject.

The neuroscience of autism: New clues for how condition begins
UNC School of Medicine scientists found that a gene mutation linked to autism normally works to organize the scaffolding of brain cells called radial progenitors necessary for the orderly formation of the brain.

Harnessing reliability for neuroscience research
Neuroscientists are amassing the large-scale datasets needed to study individual differences and identify biomarkers.

Blue Brain solves a century-old neuroscience problem
In a front-cover paper published in Cerebral Cortex, EPFL's Blue Brain Project, a Swiss Brain Research Initiative, explains how the shapes of neurons can be classified using mathematical methods from the field of algebraic topology.

Characterizing pig hippocampus could improve translational neuroscience
Researchers have taken further steps toward developing a superior animal model of neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury and epilepsy, according to a study of miniature pigs published in eNeuro.

The neuroscience of human vocal pitch
Among primates, humans are uniquely able to consciously control the pitch of their voices, making it possible to hit high notes in singing or stress a word in a sentence to convey meaning.

Study tackles neuroscience claims to have disproved 'free will'
For several decades, some researchers have argued that neuroscience studies prove human actions are driven by external stimuli -- that the brain is reactive and free will is an illusion.

Read More: Neuroscience News and Neuroscience Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.