Latest OBSSR Connector Monthly Newsletter

The OBSSR Connector Monthly Newsletter is a monthly e-newsletter featuring updates from OBSSR Acting Director Christine Hunter, Ph.D., ABPP., information about behavioral and social sciences in the news, events and announcements, findings from recently published research, funding announcements, and other updates. The latest newsletter is available below.

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May 12, 2022

Director's Voice Blog

15 Years of Recognizing Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Excellence at NIH

Since 2006, the OBSSR annually hosts an event to celebrate Dr. Matilda White Riley’s influence and contributions to the social and behavioral sciences. In its 15th year, the NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors will be held virtually on Friday, June 3, 2022, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. This half-day event features a keynote address from the 2022 Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. David R. Williams, and highlights innovative research from five Early-Stage Investigator (ESI) Honorees, who were selected out of more than 250 submissions to our ESI paper competition. I hope you will join us in learning from and celebrating the accomplishments of these excellent scholars. Register today:

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Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Spotlights

The neurons that drive competition and social behavior within groups have been identified in mice

Research supported by the NINDS, NICHD, and others has identified neurons in the brain that influence competitive behavior and are involved in shaping social behavior of groups in a mouse model. Social interactions in people, as well as in other animals often happen in large groups, and these group interactions are important in sociology, ecology, psychology, and economics. However, the exact brain processes that are responsible for the complex dynamic behavior of social groups is not well understood, partly due to much of neuroscience research being focused on the behaviors of pairs of individuals interacting in isolation. In contrast, the current study investigated the behavior of large groups of mice during competitive group interactions.
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Social connections influence the brain structure of nonhuman primates

Social relationships are driven by factors like status and alliances and in the context of primates which thrive in large complex social groups. The large computational demands of living in large, complex social groups has been hypothesized to be a crucial factor driving the evolution of the primate brain size. However, whether and how the diverse components of primates’ natural social lives relate to brain structure remain largely unexplored., these factors may be linked to primate brain size over time. In a recent study funded by the NIMH, NIA, NSF, and others sought to understand the relationship between primate neuroanatomy and social factors in free-ranging rhesus macaques.
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Socioeconomic factors affect patient outcomes for those being treated with pharmacotherapy for depression despite receiving equal access to care

Recently published research supported by the NIMH, NICHD, and others examined the impact of socioeconomic factors on pharmacotherapy treatment outcomes among adults with major depressive disorder (MDD). The research suggests that individuals who are socioeconomically disadvantaged (e.g., no college degree, unemployed, low income) demonstrate worse mental health outcomes than persons with higher socioeconomic status.
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News and Events

Recently Published Funding Announcements

BSSR Accomplishments

The NIH has been an instrumental leader in shaping and supporting behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR) to improve the nation’s health. Integrated with advances in other scientific disciplines, BSSR has made substantial contributions to the prevention or treatment of numerous physical health and mental health conditions.

In collaboration with subject matter experts from Institutes, Centers, and Offices across NIH, OBSSR has summarized some of the important scientific advances that demonstrate the valuable contribution of BSSR across various health conditions and behaviors. These summaries are provided as fact sheets (PowerPoint slides forthcoming) that highlight a significant public health problem and the corresponding BSSR-informed approaches used to address the problem. Various audiences such as academic researchers, public health organizations, and other health federal agencies, may find these materials useful to demonstrate to their stakeholders the importance of BSSR to the health of the United States population.

These new BSSR accomplishment resources are available on the OBSSR website: Improving Sleep; Managing Chronic Pain; Preventing and Treating Diabetes; Preventing Intimate Partner Violence, Reducing Teen Pregnancy; Reducing Tobacco Use; Treating Depression; Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; Treating Phobias; and Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Additional BSSR accomplishments will be added to the website in 2022.

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