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OBSSR Connector Monthly Newsletter

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) Connector Monthly Newsletter is a monthly e-newsletter featuring updates from OBSSR Director William T. Riley, Ph.D., information about behavioral and social sciences in the news, events and announcements, findings from recently published research, funding announcements, and other updates. The current newsletter is provided below.
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February 18, 2020

Director's Voice

Identify important new directions for health-related behavioral and social sciences research by March 29, 2020

OBSSR Seeks Research Community Input for Next Strategic Plan by March 29, 2020.

How time flies! OBSSR released its third strategic plan in September, 2017, and we are already halfway through this five-year plan. OBSSR has organized its functions and activities to achieve the objectives of this strategic plan and has made significant progress on these objectives. Internally, OBSSR is performing a mid-course evaluation to assess what has been accomplished and what remains to be accomplished under the current strategic plan, but in parallel we have also begun planning for the next strategic plan, and we want your input.

Today (February 18), we release a RFI and IdeaScale campaign seeking your input to identify important new directions for health-related behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR). Our current plan describes three scientific priorities:

  • Improve the synergy of basic and applied behavioral and social sciences research
  • Enhance and promote the research infrastructure, methods, and measures needed to support a more cumulative and integrated approach to behavioral and social sciences research
  • Facilitate the adoption of behavioral and social sciences research findings in health research and in practice

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Research Spotlights

Findings from Recently Published Research

Activating endocannabinoid receptors can disrupt anxiety-causing connections in the brain

Activating endocannabinoid receptors can disrupt anxiety-causing connections in the brain

Stress exposure is a major risk factor for the development and exacerbation of mental illnesses such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety disorders. Researchers supported by grants from the NIMH, NIDA, NINDS, and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation recently published research that elucidates the role of endogenous cannabinoid (eCB) signaling in brain regions associated with the stress-response, the amygdala and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC).
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During play, infant and adult brains synchronize

During play, infant and adult brains synchronize

The dynamics of the social environment are considered crucial to a child’s development of communication skills. Researchers funded by the NICHD, Princeton University, and the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Award conducted a study of how the brains of infants and adults interact during natural play. Previous studies have used methods involving scanning adults' brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in separate sessions, while the adults lay down and watched movies or listened to stories. However, in order to study real-time communication, a child-friendly method is needed for recording brain activity simultaneously from both the infant and adult brains.
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Activity tracker data may help improve flu-like outbreak predictions

Activity tracker data may help improve flu-like outbreak predictions

Worldwide, influenza results in up to 650,000 deaths each year. Researchers supported by grants from the NCATS are trying to improve methods for real-time surveillance and reporting of influenza infection trends using activity trackers. Traditional influenza surveillance reporting is often not in “real-time” and delayed by approximately 1–3 weeks, or more, and often revised months later, which may allow outbreaks to go unnoticed and spread. Previous studies have attempted to use data on internet search terms and social media to provide real-time influenza surveillance, a method also known as nowcasting.
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In the Know

Events and Announcements

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Funding Announcements

Recently Published FOAs

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Protocol Template for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research

Resource for communicating the science, methods, and operations of a clinical trial

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