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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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January 12, 2021

Director's Voice

Reflections on 2020 and the Role of Behavioral and Social Sciences. While reflecting on 2020, I looked at my schedule for January and February of last year. It included many in-person meetings, including the pain measurement meeting we held in February, 2020, as well as blocks of time to travel to and from meetings held at other venues. How our lives have changed since the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic began.

For most reading this blog, we have had to endure the relatively minor burdens of social distancing, quarantining, wearing masks, teleworking, and limiting where we go. For some, their jobs require working in-person and increasing their risk of exposure to the virus, including our frontline healthcare workers who are the true heroes of this pandemic. Others less fortunate lost their jobs due to business closings and the economic downturn. And still others contracted the virus (over 21 million in the US to date) with over 350,000 of them dying thus far from it. Being supportive of those who have lost so much and endured so much as a result of this virus should be one of our 2021 New Year’s resolutions.

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Research Spotlights

Findings from Recently Published Research

Brainwave activity connects experiences and expectations during memory recall

Brainwave activity connects experiences and expectations during memory recall

A certain frequency of brainwave activity may help us set expectations by comparing our current experience to previous memories of similar experiences. Intramural research conducted by NINDS on patients with epilepsy found that feedforward brain signals, which convey ‘bottom-up’ sensory information to more evolved brain regions (in this case, the neocortex and the medial temporal lobe), can establish a connection with a single visual experience. Prior research has shown that predictive coding is used by the brain to process common sensory information, such as the sight of green grass or sounds of common bird chirps in our environment.
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A home-court advantage – the importance of circadian rhythms and performance

A home-court advantage – the importance of circadian rhythms and performance

Basketball fans are acutely aware of the power of home-court advantage, however the specific reasons behind this advantage are unclear. Researchers supported by grants from the NHLBI and the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at Oregon Health and Science University leveraged the unique disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to further investigate this phenomenon. The specific reasons for the home-court advantage phenomenon have been difficult to study due to multiple variables pertaining to game situations and environment, as well as the effects of travel, which are all occurring at the same time.
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Children gain weight when new convenience stores open nearby

Children gain weight when new convenience stores open nearby

Determinants of obesity have been examined at many levels, but policies and interventions typically target individual factors in order to improve community health. However, evidence on community level factors such as food environments influence on weight is more limited. This study funded by NICHHD, NHLBI, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, aims to understand the relationship between changes in food store availability and changes in weight status using prospective cohort design by investigating availability of different types of small retail outlets selling food, such as convenience stores and grocery stores, and impact on children’s weight in low income minority communities.
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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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