NIH GUIDE, Volume 23, Number 28, July 29, 1994

PA NUMBER:  PA-94-089

P.T. 34




National Institute on Aging

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

National Aeronautical and Space Administration


The National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute on Deafness

and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institute of

Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and National Aeronautics and

Space Administration (NASA) announce a continuing interest in

supporting ground-based studies of sensorimotor adaptation and

multisensory integration focusing on such functions as posture, gait,

and other limb and body spatially directed movements, in health, in

disease, and in special gravito-inertial environments.


The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health

promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2000,"

a PHS-led national activity for setting priority areas.  This Program

Announcement (PA), Mechanisms of Sensorimotor Adaptation, is related to

the priority area of aging and balance impairment, a significant cause

of morbidity and disability in older individuals.  Potential applicants

may obtain a copy of "Healthy People-2000" (Full Report:  Stock No.

017-001-00474-0) or "Healthy People 2000" (Summary Report:  Stock No.

017-001-00473-1) through the Superintendent of Documents, Government

Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9325 (telephone 202-783-3238).


Applications may be submitted by foreign and domestic, for-profit and

non-profit organizations, public and private, such as universities,

colleges, hospitals, laboratories, units of State and local

governments, and eligible agencies of the Federal government.  Foreign

institutions are ineligible for First Independent Research Support and

Transition (FIRST) (R29) awards.  Applications from minority

individuals and women are encouraged.


Awards will be administered under PHS grants policy as stated in the

PHS Grants policy statement, DHHS Publication No. (OASH) 94-50,000

(rev. 4/1/94).  Research will be supported by the research project

grants (R01) and FIRST awards (R29) mechanisms.


Problems associated with impaired balance, such as falls and restricted

ambulation, are prominent causes of morbidity and disability among

older persons.  Correspondingly, problems associated with balance

control and spatial orientation are important in connection with space

flight.  During aging and during exposure to the microgravity

environment of space, sensorimotor functions may be similarly

challenged.  Changes and ambiguities in the processing of sensory

inputs lead to potential errors in cognition and perception affecting

equilibrium and spatial orientation.  Errors in reflexes and

perceptions can lead to dysfunctional consequences, such as falls in

the elderly and space motion sickness in astronauts.  Human spatial

orientation and spatially directed motor performance is facilitated by

the central nervous system integrating multiple sensory inputs and

initiating appropriate motor commands.  Under natural terrestrial

conditions, the visual, vestibular, tactile, somesthetic, and auditory

sensory systems interact in a highly adaptive fashion; the functional

importance of individual systems is modulated by intrinsic and

extrinsic conditions.

Aging and exposure to microgravity both entail sensory and motor

modifications that stimulate neuroplastic mechanisms to restore, or

compensate for, compromised function.  In the older individual, natural

aging involves slow structural deterioration of the nervous system, but

the consequent loss of function may be considerably hastened by acute

disease, such as stroke.  In astronauts, sensory and motor

relationships are altered soon after liftoff, without apparent

anatomical or physiological compromise although "deconditioning"

accompanies prolonged exposure to microgravity.  As in the older

person, such deconditioning is marked by homeostatic changes, including

those related to the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.

Central to these changes and adaptations are neural events underlying

vestibular function, vision, proprioception, and the integration of

sensorimotor function.  In the weightless environment of space, the

vestibular otolithic receptors and the tactile proprioceptors no longer

signal changes in body orientation as they do on earth.  Central motor

programs for the reinterpretation of sensory inputs and coordination of

muscle actions must undergo adaptation.  It is hypothesized that the

rearrangement and mismatch of sensory cues gives rise to the syndrome

of space motion sickness, to which the body gradually adapts.

The NIA and NASA convened a Workshop on Sensorimotor Integration and

Disintegration to identify biomedical topics in sensorimotor

integration and disintegration relevant to aging populations on Earth

and to life in space under the unique conditions of microgravity.  The

research opportunities and directions, particularly as they relate to

spatial orientation, balance, and sensorimotor coordination, identified

at this workshop form the basis for this program announcement.  A copy

of the report of this workshop can be obtained by contacting one of the

program officials listed under INQUIRIES.

Research Goals and Scope

The NIA, NIDCD, NINDS, and NASA encourage submission of applications

for research related to the mechanisms of sensorimotor adaptation and

coordination, particularly in aging and in the microgravity conditions

of space flight.  Possible areas of research include, but are not

limited to:

o  Development of new indices of sensorimotor adaptation.

o  Neural circuits and mechanisms subserving sensorimotor adaptation

and learning in three-dimensional coordinate systems, including

age-related changes.

o  CNS mechanisms contributing to the formation of a gravito-inertial

frame of reference for cognitive activities and spatially directed

motor tasks.

o  Neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying the transformation of

extrinsic frames of reference into internal reference frames involved

in coordination of volitional and reflexive movements of the joints,

torso, head, neck, and eyes, such as reaching movements and eye-head

gaze movements.

o  Strategies employed adaptively for the maintenance of spatial

orientation with the loss or degradation of sensory inputs across the


o  Biomechanical and cognitive strategies used adaptively in spatially

directed tasks, particularly with aging.

o  CNS mechanisms underlying the changes in multisensory and

sensorimotor integration that accompany aging and exposure to altered

gravito-inertial fields.

o  Adaptive change in the vestibulo-ocular reflex and/or visual-

vestibulo-ocular functions as models for understanding motor learning

and plasticity within the central nervous system.

o  Adaptive change in the vestibulospinal and postural reflexes.

o  The roles of interventions and prior experience in triggering

compensation for the loss of sensorimotor functions.

o  Effect of time course, e.g., sudden onset vs. slow insidious onset,

on the mechanisms underlying sensory adaptation to motor and

environmental alterations.

While all research solicited in this program announcement will be

conducted on Earth, NASA will provide access to special facilities in

which various aspects of the real or perceived acceleration environment

may be examined in ways not readily available to most researchers.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to incorporate the utilization of

NASA research facilities and resources and the collaboration with NASA

scientists in their research plans.  For more information contact the

NASA program official.  A brief listing of available facilities and the

appropriate contact person(s) at each facility is available.  NASA will

contribute the costs associated with utilizing these facilities at no

charge to the grantee.



It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups

and their subpopulations must be included in all NIH supported

biomedical and behavioral research projects involving human subjects,

unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification is provided

that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to the health of the

subjects or the purpose of the research.  This new policy results from

the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public Law 103-43)

and supersedes and strengthens the previous policies (Concerning the

Inclusion of Women in Study Populations, and Concerning the Inclusion

of Minorities in Study Populations), which have been in effect since

1990. The new policy contains some provisions that are substantially

different from the 1990 policies.

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should

read the "NIH Guidelines For Inclusion of Women and Minorities as

Subjects in Clinical Research," which have been published in the

Federal Register of March 9, 1994 (FR 59 11146-11151) and reprinted in

the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Volume 23, Number 11, March 18,


Investigators also may obtain copies of the policy from the program

staff listed under INQUIRIES.  Program staff may also provide

additional relevant information concerning the policy.


Applications are to be submitted on the grant application form PHS 398

(rev. 9/91) and will be accepted at the standard application deadlines

as indicated in the application kit.

Application kits are available at most institutional offices of

sponsored research and may be obtained from the Office of Grants

Information, Division of Research Grants, National Institutes of

Health, Westwood Building, Room 449, Bethesda, MD 20892, telephone

301/435-0714.  The title and number of this program announcement must

be typed in Section 2a on the face page of the application.

Applications for the FIRST Award (R29) must include at least three

sealed letters of reference attached to the face page of the original

application.  FIRST Award (R29) applications submitted without the

required number of reference letters will be considered incomplete and

will be returned without review.

The completed original application and five legible copies must be sent

or delivered to:

Division of Research Grants

National Institutes of Health

Westwood Building, Room 240

Bethesda, MD  20892**


Applications will be assigned on the basis of established Public Health

Service referral guidelines.  Applications will be reviewed for

scientific and technical merit in accordance with the standard NIH peer

review procedures.  Following scientific-technical review, including

responsiveness to the objectives of this program announcement, the

applications will receive a second-level review by the appropriate

national advisory council.

The following criteria will be used in evaluating applications

submitted in response to this announcement:

o  Scientific and technical merit, significance, and originality of the

proposed research;

o  Appropriateness and adequacy of the experimental approach and

methodology to be used;

o  Qualifications of the principal investigator and staff in the area

of research, and the principal investigator's prior research experience

and record;

o  Adequacy of the available facilities.


Applications will compete for available funds with all other approved

applications assigned to that Institute or Center.  The following will

be considered in making funding decisions:

o  Quality of the proposed project as determined by peer review;

o  Availability of funds;

o  Program balance among research areas of the announcement.


Written and telephone inquiries are encouraged.  The opportunity to

clarify any issues or questions from potential applicants is welcome.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Deborah Claman, Ph.D.

Neuroscience and Neuropsychology of Aging Program

National Institute on Aging

Gateway Building, Suite 3C307

Bethesda, MD  20892

Telephone:  (301) 496-9350

Daniel Sklare, Ph.D.

Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Executive Plaza South, Room 400-C

Bethesda, MD  20892

Telephone:  (301) 496-1804

William J. Heetderks, M.D., Ph.D.

Division of Fundamental Neurosciences

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Federal Building, Room 9C02

Bethesda, MD  20892

Telephone:  (301) 496-5745

Victor Schneider, M.D.

Life and Biomedical Sciences and Applications Division

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

300 E Street, S.W., Code UL

Washington, DC  20546

Telephone:  (202) 358-2359

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Vicki Maurer

Grants and Contracts Management Office

National Institute on Aging

Gateway Building, Suite 2N212

Bethesda, MD  20892

Telephone:  (301) 496-1472

Sharon Hunt

Division of Extramural Activities

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Executive Plaza South, Room 400D

6120 Executive Boulevard

Rockville, MD  20892

Telephone:  (301) 402-0909


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

No. 93.866 and No. 93.173.  Awards are made under authorization of the

Public Health Service Act, Title IV, Part A (Public Law 78-410, as

amended by Public Law 99-158, 42 USC 241 and 285) and administered

under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR

Part 74. This program is not subject to the intergovernmental review

requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review.


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