December 7, 2022
PA-20-185- NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
PA-20-184- Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)
PA-20-196- NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)
PA-21-235- NIMH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
PA-20-194- NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Clinical Trial Required)
PA-21-219- Joint NINDS/NIMH Exploratory Neuroscience Research Grant (R21 Clinical Trial Optional)
PA-20-200 - NIH Small Research Grant Program (Parent R03 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
PAR-21-155 - Academic Research Enhancement Award for Undergraduate-Focused Institutions (R15 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
PAR-21-175 - Understanding and Modifying Temporal Dynamics of Coordinated Neural Activity (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)
PAR-21-176 - Understanding and Modifying Temporal Dynamics of Coordinated Neural Activity (R21 Clinical Trial Optional)
PAR-22-066 - Basic Neurodevelopmental Biology of Circuits and Behavior (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
PAR-22-067- Basic Neurodevelopmental Biology of Brain Circuits and Behavior (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
NIMH is issuing this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) to outline priorities for research that incorporates a multi-dimensional perspective into studies of the neural mechanisms underlying emotional and/or social representations. The ability to integrate a broad array of emotional and social information is impaired in many mental disorders, yet the neural mechanisms underlying these processes are not well understood. This NOSI encourages studies in humans and animals investigating how diverse multi-dimensional emotional and/or social cues are represented across brain circuits that are important for mental health relevant cognitive, social, and affective behavioral functions. The term “multi-dimensional” refers to the consideration of multiple modalities (e.g., social, emotional, visual, and auditory), the effects of complex contexts and development, and/or dynamic processes that unfold over a variety of temporal scales.
Deficiencies in interpreting social cues, tendencies to focus on negative at the expense of positive information, and difficulties in using emotional and social knowledge in context-appropriate ways are significant issues across many mental illnesses. However, despite the complexity of processing social/emotional information – which encompasses multiple modalities, changes across time and across neural circuits, and is contextualized by prior experiences – many prior studies are grounded in single region-based, modular, and/or static conceptualization of brain function and behavior. For example, a large body of evidence using classical conditioning has implicated the amygdala as a single brain region in the recognition and memory of threatening emotional stimuli. Few studies have assessed responses to threatening stimuli within more complex and naturalistic settings or incorporated a broader range of multi-dimensional emotional, contextual, and social cues. Recent studies posit that interactive networks with distributed activity in space and time respond to diverse multimodal stimuli. Despite these scientific advances, the nature of the dynamic neural interactions that govern the formation and development of coherent perception and comprehension of social-emotional information remains largely unknown.
To expand our knowledge beyond region-based, modular, and purely sequential models of social-emotional information processing, we need a better understanding of how activity across neural circuits affects the perception, interpretation, and representation of multi-dimensional social and emotional cues. Therefore, this NOSI solicits applications that investigate the interactions across distributed neural circuits required for processing of mental health relevant multi-dimensional social and emotional cues, incorporating the effects of multiple modalities (e.g., social, emotional, visual, auditory), complex contexts, and/or dynamic processes in their experimental designs.
This NOSI encourages research that will support Strategic Goals 1 and 2 of the NIMH strategic plan for research by: 1) identifying neurobiological mechanisms and precise spatio-temporal interactions across brain networks that contribute to emotional and/or social behaviors, 2) determining the normative neurodevelopmental trajectories involved in processing multi-modal emotional and/or social cues, and 3) determining how disruptions in neurodevelopment or dysfunctions in neurobiological systems contribute to alterations in the emotional and/or social behaviors associated with mental health and mental illnesses.
NIMH encourages research studies in animals and humans that incorporate behavioral paradigms capable of assessing the normal and maladaptive integration of multi-dimensional emotional or social information. This NOSI prioritizes experimental designs that include paradigms with more than one modality. Emotional and social experiences are not static: stimuli and contexts vary over time, and social interactions involve give and take between individuals. NIMH is interested in projects that account for social-emotional representation changes over time. Finally, both neurodevelopment and prior experience can affect the interpretation of emotional and social situations. Therefore, investigations of the relationship between typical and atypical brain neurodevelopmental trajectories and emotional and/or social processing are also of interest.
To shed light on the neural circuits involved in processing the complex emotional and/or social world, NIMH encourages studies in animals and humans that extend beyond region-based, modular, static models of neurophysiological function and mental health relevant behaviors. Of particular interest, are studies that include analyses to unveil how emotional and/or social representations arise from coordinated and dynamic patterns of neural activity across large scale neural networks. NIMH is interested in state-of-the-art methods and computational modeling approaches to examine complex interactions across brain networks and determine how precise spatiotemporal patterns of activity give rise to integrated, flexible emotional and/or social behaviors relevant to mental health and mental illnesses.
To be considered under this NOSI, applications must fall within one or more of the following broad areas:
Projects utilizing human and/or animal subjects are encouraged. As per NOT-OD-15-102, it is expected that all studies will include both males and females. Basic experimental studies in humans are encouraged, but interventional clinical trials with specific applications toward processes or products in mind (e.g., Phase I/II/II drug or device study) will not be considered under this NOSI. For applicants interested in developing clinical interventions, please see http://www.nimh.nih.gov/funding/opportunities-announcements/clinical-trials-foas.
Experimental Rigor: Translating discoveries into evidence-based treatments is predicated on the existence of strong, well powered, adequately controlled, and replicable experiments. In addition, the value of such research is greatly enhanced when detailed information is made available about study design, execution, analysis, and interpretation. Examples of critical elements are detailed in NOT-OD-15-103.
Specific Areas of Research Interest
Examples of specific research areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:
Research Areas of Low Program Priority Under This NOSI
Examples of low priority research areas include, but are not limited to, the following:e:
Studies in Animals
For basic neuroscience studies, NIMH emphasizes measures that reflect circuits and processes shared between animals and humans without reliance on unsubstantiated links to clinical psychopathology or description of animal behaviors in terms of emotions and thought processes that are accessible only in humans by self-report (see NOT-MH-19-053). Accordingly, studies that test specific hypotheses regarding circuits that support cognitive function, reward and motivation, memory, and social processing will be prioritized over those that attempt to study pathological social and emotional behavior using animal systems constructed to model human mental disorders or syndromes. Applicants planning basic neuroscience studies related to stress biology should refer to NOT-MH-18-058.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with the Scientific/Research contacts below when developing plans for an application. Early contact will provide an opportunity to clarify NIMH priorities and guidelines as well as to discuss specific components of the application subject to peer review.
Application and Submission Information
This notice applies to due dates on or after January 25, 2023 and subsequent receipt dates through January 8, 2025.
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.