August 3, 2020
PA-20-183 - NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Required)
PA-20-184 - NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)
PA-20-185 - NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
PA-20-194 - NIH NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Clinical Trial Required)
PA-20-195 - NIH NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
PA-20-196 - NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
This Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) is intended to underscore NIA’s continued commitment to psychological and neuroscientific research on affective, motivational, and social functions in midlife and aging. NIA supports research to further clarify the changes in and trajectories of these processes in adults who are aging normally and/or in individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and AD-related dementias (ADRD). NIA also seeks to understand how changes in the structure and function of neurobiological and neuromodulatory systems mediate or moderate affective, motivational, and social behaviors and interact with other psychological functions, including cognition. NIA’s goals are three-fold: (1) to advance understanding of normative maturational changes in affective, motivational, and social processes, their role in behavior and cognition, and their underlying integrative neural-behavioral mechanisms; (2) to elucidate how dysfunction in these processes might manifest in MCI and the early stages of AD/ADRD; and/or (3) to determine how dysfunction in these processes might account for any of the Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) observed in AD/ADRD. Such studies may identify novel targets for preventative or therapeutic interventions to promote social, emotional, and cognitive well-being; facilitate adaptive function in aging; normalize social or emotional dysregulation; and/or strengthen social or emotional resilience at different stages of the life course and at different disease stages in AD/ADRD.
Evidence suggests that the trajectories of function in the affective, motivational, and social domains can vary significantly across the lifespan in individuals and subpopulations. At both psychological and neurobiological levels, the factors influencing and mechanisms accounting for these differences remain largely unknown. Standard, laboratory-based studies cannot fully capture the influences of variable and changing contexts as people age. Moreover, dysfunctions or non-normative premature changes in these processes and their interactions may signal the onset of AD/ADRD, but our understanding of when and how these changes begin to manifest remains limited.
This NOSI seeks to advance understanding of both normative and non-normative age-related changes in affective, motivational, and social processes. It encourages studies that examine these processes across different levels of measurement (behavioral, psychological, physiological, and neurobiological) and that elucidate interactions across these functions in real-world contexts. Such studies may enable researchers to identify changes in these domains across normative aging and to propose potential targets for robust interventions to promote healthy, adaptive aging and improve quality of life for older adults and their families. They may also offer insights into the extent to which adults with MCI or AD/ADRD fail to show normative maturational shifts and at what point(s) during the adult lifespan they may diverge from normative trajectories.
This NOSI is based on expert discussions from NIA and NASEM workshops, including the Neural Processes of Affective Change in Aging (2018) and the Leveraging Insights and Approaches from Social and Affective Neuroscience to Promote Adaptive Aging (2019) workshops, which identified emerging gaps and opportunities in these areas.
Specific Research Interests
NIA prioritizes multi-disciplinary research projects that examine affective, motivational, and social functions; address the dynamic interactions among differentially maturing brain systems and psychological processes; and determine trajectories of normative age-related changes, as well as those associated with MCI and AD/ADRD. Important individual and sub-population variables to consider include the impacts of sex and gender, race, socioeconomic status, and educational background. NIA also encourages targeted sampling of specific and especially vulnerable sub-groups of older adults, such as those with limited mobility, hearing loss, experiences of early life adversity, or cumulative disadvantages.
NIA encourages basic and translational research in humans and/or appropriate animal models that assesses affective, motivational, and social processes dimensionally, integrating across multiple levels of analysis and employing cutting-edge methodologies in both the psychological sciences and neuroscience (e.g., psychophysiology, psychoneuroendocrinology, psychoneuroimmunology, affective neuroscience, epidemiology, psychosomatic and behavioral medicine). Mechanisms that account for adaptive or maladaptive affective, motivational, and social functions may be characterized at any level of analysis, from molecular to interpersonal. NIA encourages the use of psychometrically sound assessment approaches, as well as the use of passive sensing and/or active sampling from mobile devices to measure affective, motivational, and social responses in “real-world” contexts. Programmatic priorities include experimental designs that allow for assessment of causality and that test hypotheses regarding how affective, motivational, and social processes interact with each other and with cognitive processes to impact normative age-related changes or dysfunctions due to MCI and/or AD/ADRD. These approaches have the potential to identify predictive psychological, behavioral, and biological markers for aging- or disease-related changes in these functions, including behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD).
This initiative also encourages the application of basic behavioral, psychological, and neuroscientific research to the design of interventions for midlife and older adults with and without MCI and AD/ADRD who exhibit or experience affective, motivational, or social deficits. Outcome measures could include the physical, cognitive, and emotional health and well-being of persons with or without dementia; their relationships with family members, caregivers, and other social partners; or their interactions with institutions and social groups. For translational projects, this initiative provides a vehicle for submitting intervention studies at all phases and stages (Stage Model for Behavioral Intervention Development). Interventional approaches should be in line with the mechanisms-focused approach outlined in the NIH Stage Model and encouraged by the NIH Common Fund's Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) program.
Application and Submission Information
This notice applies to due dates on or after October 5, 2020 and subsequent receipt dates through January 8, 2022.
Submit applications for this initiative using one of the following funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) or any reissues of these announcement through the expiration date of this Notice.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the funding opportunity announcement used for submission must be followed, with the following additions:
Applications nonresponsive to terms of this NOSI will not be considered for the NOSI initiative.