• Proposal: 12/15/2017


  • Duration: 3 years


The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) InitiativeSM is aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, will show how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space. It is expected that the application of these new tools and technologies will ultimately lead to new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders.

The purpose of this FOA is to promote the integration of experimental, analytic, and theoretical capabilities for large-scale analysis of neural systems and circuits. This FOA seeks applications for exploratory research studies that use new and emerging methods for large scale recording and manipulation of neural circuits across multiple brain regions.

Applications should propose to elucidate the contributions of dynamic circuit activity to a specific behavioral or neural system. Applications should seek to understand circuits of the central nervous system by systematically controlling stimuli and/or behavior while actively recording and/or manipulating relevant dynamic patterns of neural activity and by measuring the resulting behaviors and/or perceptions.  Studies should incorporate rich information on cell-types, on circuit functionality and connectivity, and should be performed in conjunction with sophisticated analysis of complex, ethologically relevant behaviors.

Successful exploratory studies should lead to subsequent, competing applications for support of multicomponent, team-research projects consistent with the BRAIN Initiative’s goal to understand the circuits of the brain, measure the fluctuating patterns of electrical and chemical activity flowing within those circuits, and understand how their interplay creates our advanced cognitive and behavioral capabilities.

The list below includes representative, but not exhaustive, examples of topics that could be considered responsive to this FOA.

  • Innovative approaches to understand network coding of sensory information, at multiple stages of processing, in response to diverse naturalistic inputs and perceptual contexts.
  • Innovative approaches and new paradigms for identifying and understanding nocioception and pain in the context of circuit mechanisms of the central nervous system
  • New paradigms to assess motor coding during complex behaviors or freely-moving subjects.
  • Novel approaches to understand neural circuitry associated with diverse social behaviors.
  • Large-scale, dynamic changes in functional circuit connectivity underlying the brain’s ability to store information and to learn new behaviors.
  • Distributed circuits that contribute to the coordination of motivational states and reward behavior.
  • New approaches to capture and assess information processing across brain regions during memory consolidation, memory retrieval, spatial/relational processing, attention, or planning.
  • Large-scale approaches to assess distributed representations and the information processing underlying advanced mental processes such as decision making, numerical cognition, reasoning, and metacognition.
  • Empirical and analytical approaches to understand how behavioral states are emergent properties of the interaction of neurons, circuits, and networks.
  • Research to advance principles of circuit function and neural systems in the central nervous system that regulate homeostasis, including biorhythms, and the balance of temperature, respiratory, energy and metabolic functions.

Applications should propose teams of investigators that seek to cross boundaries of interdisciplinary collaboration by bridging fields and linking theory and data analysis to experimental design. Exploratory studies supported by this FOA are intended to develop experimental capabilities and quantitative, theoretical frameworks in preparation for a future competition for larger-scale, multi-component, Team-Research Circuit Programs (U19) awards.


James Gnadt, PhD
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Telephone: 301-496-9964