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FABBS Update: June 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Psychonomic Society
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June 22nd, 2017





Petition to Support Peer Review Launched


On June 12, the Coalition to Promote Research (CPR) released a petition urging Congress to support the nation’s scientific research enterprise by allowing the federal peer and merit review processes to judge the relevance of research proposals. The goal of the petition is to inform members of Congress about constituent support for good scientific stewardship and peer/merit review.


CPR hopes the petition will persuade members of Congress to oppose any efforts that may emerge to defund grants already receiving support from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. FABBS serves as a member of the CPR Steering Committee.


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Fiscal Year 2018 Deliberations Proceed


Since the Administration released its proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget last month, Congress has been considering how it can complete the FY 2018 appropriations process before the new fiscal year begins onOctober 1.


Under normal circumstances, the president’s detailed budget would have been released in February, giving Congress more time to not only consider the president’s proposal, but also to prepare a budget resolution—a step Congress conducts to determine overall spending allocations to the 12 appropriations subcommittees that fund the federal government. Without this budget “blueprint,” the appropriations subcommittees do not explicitly know how much funding they will have to devote to their agencies of jurisdiction. Absent a budget resolution, the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees rely on the previous year’s allocation and the broad overall non-defense and defense spending caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 to guide their deliberations.


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NIH Scraps Grant Support Index, Announces Next Generation Researchers Initiative


On June 8, Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the agency was tabling immediate implementation of its recently proposed Grant Support Index (GSI) in favor of launching the Next Generation Researchers Initiative.


Originally, NIH had proposed the GSI as a strategy for limiting the total NIH grant support provided to individual principal investigators, thereby making more funds available to support awards for early and mid-career investigators. However, during recent presentations to various NIH Institutes’ and Centers’ advisory councils, NIH officials heard “significant concerns about the GSI methodology for assessing research impact.” In addition, concern was raised about the potential for the GSI cap to discourage team science, complex trials, and research networks, and to undermine support for infrastructure and training. Given the enormity of the issues the GSI proposal raised, NIH leadership set aside plans for implementing it in favor of pursuing a different approach to enhance support for early and mid-career investigators.


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National Academies Releases Report on NSF SBE Research


The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a report, “The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities: A Report for the National Science Foundation.” According to a Committee member, the report grew out of a conversation with Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees NSF funding.


“The social, behavioral, and economic sciences make significant contributions to the National Science Foundation’s mission to advance health, prosperity and welfare, national defense, and progress in science, “ according to NASEM’s press release. The report also concludes that the “understanding, tools, and methods” provided by the SBE sciences help other agencies achieve their missions and have also been applicable to business and industry. The report provides examples of how NSF SBE-funded research has provided important knowledge in each of these areas.


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Paying Attention to Pediatric Anxiety


Many children have fears and worries, but some have a diagnosable anxiety disorder that can impair their social and academic functioning and even physical health. Anxiety is a painful experience; although it is often treatable, most young people and their parents would prefer to prevent it.Bethany Reeb-Sutherland, an assistant professor at Florida International University, is identifying some promising avenues for doing just that. Through her work with both animals and humans, Reeb-Sutherland has helped to identify pre-cursors of childhood anxiety and test preventive interventions. Her studies offer hope for a path to preventing and treating anxiety without the cost and side effects of medication.


Reeb-Sutherland is interested in identifying children who are likely to develop anxiety, and that has led her to study children with extreme shyness, or what psychologists call behavioral inhibition (BI). About ten percent of children are thought to exhibit BI, a type of temperament that involves excessive fear of new situations and people and is associated with a high risk of later anxiety. As a graduate student, Reeb-Sutherland ran across research showing that young children with BI who spent time in care outside the home (such as at daycare or a grandparent’s house) were less likely to remain inhibited than those who didn’t.


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Brian MacWhinney, PhD


Brian MacWhinneyobtained his PhD in psycholinguistics at the University of California, Berkeley in 1974, working under the direction of Susan Ervin-Tripp and Dan Slobin. In his dissertation, titled How Hungarian Children Learn to Speak, MacWhinney focused on children’s acquisition of complex morphological rules for plural formation. This represented the first in a long line of studies that aimed to provide a comprehensive account of grammatical development applicable to typologically diverse languages.


After an initial stint at the University of Denver, Brian has spent his academic career in the Psychology Department of Carnegie Mellon University. Through decades of original and influential work, Brian has become a significant force in psycholinguistics, both theoretically and methodologically. He has served the linguistic community by creating and curating numerous language databases. He has been a valued colleague, and a mentor to the next generation of language researchers.


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What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us: Toxic Chemicals, Science, and Policy


Environmental protection is the subject of heated debate these days. In February of this year, President Trump signed an executive order to roll back the clean water rule, which limits corporations’ ability to pollute about 60% of U.S. waterways. The irony is that we know more than ever before about how toxic chemicals adversely affect people, and we can be certain that what we don’t yet know can hurt us. Scientific research on potential chemical contaminants is both more advanced and more needed than ever before, according to an article byChristopher Newland and Jordan Baileyin the recent issue ofPolicy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences.


“Approximately 80,000 chemicals have been registered for commercial use, and of these, more than 3,000 have been identified as high priority” because industries produce more than a million pounds per year, according to the authors’ review of research. Exposure to many of these chemicals, like pesticides and solvents, causes damage to the human nervous system, especially if developing fetuses are exposed before birth. But for the vast majority of industrial chemicals, we simply don’t know the specific effects.


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  • Global Brain and Nervous System Disorders Research Across the Lifespan
  • Socioeconomic Disparities in Health and Mortality at Older Ages(R01)
  • U.S. Tobacco Control Policies to Reduce Health Disparities















FABBS News Highlights is a monthly electronic newsletter published by the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences with the goals of keeping scientists updated on funding and policy issues affecting the sciences of mind, brain and behavior; recognizing the research contributions of leading scientists; and sharing research findings to inform policies and programs.


Editor: Paula Skedsvold

Contributors: Mary Jo Hoeksema, Suzanne Bouffard, Diana Liao



FABBS Member Societies


American Educational Research AssociationAmerican Psychological AssociationAssociation for Applied Psychophysiology and BiofeedbackAssociation for Behavior Analysis InternationalBehavior Genetics AssociationCognitive Science SocietyInternational Society for Developmental PsychobiologyMassachusetts Neuropsychological SocietyNational Academy of NeuropsychologyThe Psychonomic SocietySociety for Behavioral NeuroendocrinologySociety for Computers in PsychologySociety for Judgment and Decision MakingSociety for Mathematical PsychologySociety for Psychophysiological ResearchSociety for Research in PsychopathologySociety for the Scientific Study of ReadingSociety for Text & DiscourseSociety of Experimental Social PsychologySociety of Multivariate Experimental Psychology


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