Notice of Special Interest: Integrative Studies of Neural Mechanisms Underlying Fundamental Affective Processes in Aging
Notice Number:
NOT-AG-21-012

Key Dates

Release Date:

October 15, 2020

First Available Due Date:
February 05, 2021
Expiration Date:
January 08, 2024

Related Announcements

PA-20-195 - NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

PA-20-185 - NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Issued by

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Purpose

The purpose of this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) is to inform applicants of NIA’s interest in research on the neural mechanisms underlying fundamental affective processes in aging. Grant applications are encouraged to 1) extend research on neural mechanisms underlying affective processes into aging models; and/or 2) seek to “reverse translate” clinical research results on affective processes in aging into model systems that support elucidation of fundamental neural mechanisms. NIA also wishes to encourage collaboration among cognitive and affective neuroscientists and/or investigators working at different levels of neurobiological and behavioral analysis.

Background

Affective neuroscience focuses on the neurobiological underpinnings of emotion and related phenomena. The brain plays a key role in orchestrating and fine-tuning affective states and responses, perceiving and interpreting emotionally relevant stimuli, and coordinating responses to these stimuli. Despite the importance of affect as a core process in human cognition, research aimed at understanding the neural mechanisms underlying affect is limited, and affective neuroscience studies in older adults and aging animals are rare.

Investigations of age-related changes in neural systems that govern aspects of arousal, motivation, positive and negative affective responses, and emotion regulation have suggested these functions exhibit complex profiles of adaptation and compensation in aging. Interactions among affective and cognitive processes also appear to change with age. Recent work has begun to examine individual differences and variation in affective processing in mid- and late-life as a function of sex, early developmental exposures, and current social and environmental context. These investigations are important for building our understanding of how older adults may deploy compensatory neural mechanisms to support adaptive emotional functioning into later life, and potentially support the development of strategies to detect, prevent, and treat affective and behavioral dysregulation. Given the close links between affective function and memory formation, such strategies may prove useful for preventing age-related cognitive decline. Gaps remain in our understanding of early and/or mid-life changes in neural circuitry supporting affective function with age. Deeper knowledge of normative maturation of affective processes complements NIA’s investment in brain aging research in other domains (cognitive, sensory-motor, autonomic, etc.).

NIA seeks applications in affective neuroscience that utilize state-of-the-art approaches and causal designs to elucidate the core neurobiological processes underlying changes in affective functions across normative developmental trajectories of aging, as well as changes related to Alzheimer's disease and Alzheimer's disease related dementias (AD/ADRD). NIA also seeks applications that aim to elucidate the core neurobiological processes underlying changes in affective functions across normative developmental trajectories of aging, as well as changes related to Alzheimer's disease and Alzheimer's disease related dementias (AD/ADRD). NIA also encourages the use of ecologically relevant behavioral paradigms that allow quantitative, real-time, dynamic behavioral measurements. To ensure rigor and reproducibility, a strong rationale should be provided in all applications for the choice of model systems (e.g., species) and behavioral paradigms.

Research Objectives

The specific research objectives of this NOSI are to: 1) extend research on neural mechanisms underlying affective processes into aging; and/or 2) extend results from research on human affective processes in aging to human or animal models that support elucidation of neural mechanisms. Novel research projects are sought in the areas of normative aging, MCI, and/or AD/ADRD.

The scope of scientific questions must be of relevance to the mission of NIA and aligned with the NIA Strategic Directions and/or the HHS National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease . Collaborations among multiple principle investigators and key personnel in complementary disciplines are encouraged.

Potential Research Areas

Research proposals responsive to this NOSI will include new, resubmission, or renewal projects investigating questions of importance to affective neuroscience in aging such as, but not limited to, the following:

  • Fundamental research on neural mechanisms underlying aversive/appetitive contextual conditioning in aging;
  • Studies that examine adult neurogenesis, structural changes in neural circuitry, functional changes in neural activity, and/or changes in neuromodulatory processes that impact the encoding and recall of emotionally salient stimuli with age;
  • Research that elucidates the role of experience over the lifespan on structural and functional neural systems underlying affect in aging;
  • Research on the neural mechanisms underlying gonadal cessation’s effects on emotional processes;
  • Studies that examine how changes in affective processes progress independently or concomitantly over the course of neurodegeneration in AD/ADRD animal models;
  • Research to characterize neurobiological changes associated with changes in affect as putative early markers of AD/ADRD; and
  • Studies to elucidate the neural mechanisms/processes (at molecular, cellular, circuit, and/or network levels) that give rise to the increase in positive affect with age.

Application and Submission Information

This notice applies to due dates on or after  February 5, 2021, and subsequent receipt dates through January 8, 2024.

Submit applications for this initiative using one of the following funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) or any reissues of these announcements through the expiration date of this notice.

PA-20-195 - NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

PA-20-185 - NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Investigators planning to submit an application in response to this NOSI are strongly encouraged to contact and discuss their proposed research/aims with an NIA program officer well in advance of the planned submission date.

Applications nonresponsive to terms of this NOSI will not be considered for the NOSI initiative.

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to the contacts in Section VII of the listed funding opportunity announcements with the following additions/substitutions:

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Luci Roberts, Ph.D.
Division of Neuroscience
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Email:roberlu@mail.nih.gov

Janine Simmons, M.D., Ph.D.
Division of Behavioral and Social Research
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Email: simmonsj@mail.nih.gov


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