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FABBS Member Update - January 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018  
Posted by: Psychonomic Society
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Struggles with NIH Clinical Trial Policies Continue for Basic Scientists


For at least six months now, NIH and segments of the basic science community have been engaged in a dialogue around the agency’s operationalization of the clinical trials definition to include much basic science involving humans. Through petitions, open letters (see NIH Director Awardee letter and Study Section Chairs letter), emails, responses to NIH blog posts, Advisory Council discussions, and more, the back-and-forth has led to some improvements in the process (e.g., assurances that there will be no change in the review of basic science applications) and a narrowing of what research is included as a clinical trial. A Frequently-Asked-Questions interview between immediate Past-President, Jeremy Wolfe, representing FABBS, and NIH will appear inNature Human Behaviorin two weeks, which highlights problematic areas and NIH’s plans for addressing them. However, there remains widespread concern about the basic science research that is still included in NIH’s definition of a clinical trial as well as confusion about the rationale for the changes.


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Unfinished Business Awaits Congress in 2018


Congress returned to Washington, DC on January 3rd with a long list of unfinished business—especially as it relates to the federal budget. On December 21, Congress passed, and the President subsequently signed, H.R. 1370, a continuing resolution (CR), to fund the federal government throughJanuary 19, 2018. This was the third CR since the start of the fiscal year on October 1, 2017, and it is likely Congress and the Administration will need to agree on the terms of a fourth CR. A major hurdle to resolving to the FY 2018 funding cycle is the absence of a comprehensive budget agreement.


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NIH Hosts Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee (BSSR-CC) held a research festival,Connecting People to Advance Health, on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, onDecember 8th. The festival featured NIH-funded research and provided the opportunity for NIH extramural and intramural behavioral and social scientists to network, exchange ideas, and consider potential strategies to advance these sciences.


NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak welcomed attendees and highlighted OBSSR’s important mission “to find and deepen the understanding of social and cultural factors that contribute to disease.” Tabak praised OBSSR’s success since its founding in 1993, and emphasized that OBSSR is an “integral” part of NIH. Tabak observed that “many interventions, therapies, and treatments would not have as nearly as much impact without consideration of research on the associated behaviors and social elements needed for implementation.” Behavioral science is once again “at the forefront of health research,” he declared.


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Richard E. Nisbett, PhD


Richard E. Nisbett received his BA from Tufts in 1962 and his PhD in 1966 from Columbia, where his advisor was Stanley Schachter. He taught at Yale from 1966-1971. The remainder of his career has been spent at the University of Michigan, where he was the Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished University Professor and Co-Director of the Culture and Cognition Program.


Nisbett studies how people reason and make inferences about the world. He has shown both that inferences can be seriously flawed and that they are surprisingly subject to correction by training. Recent work compares East Asians with Westerners. He finds that Westerners reason analytically, emphasizing rules and categorization whereas East Asians reason holistically, focusing broadly on the field in which important objects are located. His most recent work on the nature of intelligence and its modifiability shows that heritability of IQ is not as great as previously believed and that familial, cultural and educational effects on intelligence and academic achievement are very large. Nisbett is the author or editor of 13 books, several of which are widely regarded as classics in the field. In his latest bookMindware, Nisbett describes some of the most common mistakes in reasoning that people fall prey to, and provides simple advice on how to avoid them.


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To End the Cycle of Poverty, Begin in the Womb


We have long known that environmental toxins can have an adverse impact on pregnant mothers and their infants, but it turns out the environment can have a subtler impact than once thought. Chronic, pronounced stress during pregnancy impacts a baby’s brain development in ways that can negatively affect attention, self-control, and behavior for years to come. That kind of stress is more commonly experienced by people living in poverty, and may help to explain the notoriously thorny cycle of poverty, explainLisa Gatzke-KoppandKristine Creaveyin a review forPolicy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Stress impairs development and biologically predisposes children to experience later stress, making it increasingly difficult to break the cycle of disadvantage. To end that cycle, the authors write, we need to invest in prevention and intervention programs during the prenatal period. The title of their article, “Unsealing Fate,” illuminates how urgent that need is for children and society.


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Access the article "Unsealing Fate: Policy Practices Aimed at Reducing the Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty" by Lisa M. Gatzke-Kopp and Kristine L. Creavey here»






Science Societies Push for Science-Based Decision Making


There was a flurry of activity among science societies when it was first reported that the Administration had banned the use of seven words in budget documents by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency’s director, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, was quick to respond that no words were banned, and others at CDC characterized the effort as an attempt to ensure approval of their budget with a Republican Congress. Last week she also sent a letter to the Senate further clarifying the CDC’s position.


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2018 FABBS Early Career Impact Award Winners


FABBS is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Early Career Impact Award. This award recognizes early career scientists of FABBS member societies who have made major contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior. Now in our sixth year, we are honoring six outstanding scientists representing a broad array of research. Throughout the year, we will highlight the contributions of these researchers.


Leslie Blaha (Society for Mathematical Psychology)
Jason Braasch (Society for Text & Discourse)

Kathleen Corriveau (American Educational Research Association)

Genomary Krigbaum (Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback)

Sonya Sterba (Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology)

Karin Verweij (Behavior Genetics Association)






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: Paula Skedsvold, Mary Jo Hoeksema, Suzanne Bouffard, Angela Sharpe, 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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