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FABBS News Highlights: March 1, 2019

Monday, March 4, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Psychonomic Society
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March 1, 2019





BRAIN Initiative Team E Invites FABBS to Present on Cognitive and Behavioral Opportunities



On February 19, Nora S. Newcombe, Temple University, FABBS board president, and Jeffrey M. Zacks, Washington University, FABBS board member, presented to the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Team for Integrative and Quantitative Approaches: Opportunities for the BRAIN Initiative 2.0.


Established in 2013, the BRAIN Initiative focused on technology development to measure neural and circuit activity for the first phase. With this phase coming to an end, the community is currently awaiting the release of a BRAIN 2.0 draft report for public comment. The focus for the second five years will shift to integrating technologies with the goal of future discoveries.


The FABBS presentation and engaged conversation with BRAIN Team E was an opportunity to identify examples of behavioral and cognitive questions and advances, both past and potentially future. The timing of the invitation was fortuitous, as program officers start developing Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs). 








FABBS Responds to NIH Requests for Comment


FABBS submitted comments to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) addressing draft themes for their strategic plan. FABBS' comments highlighted specific examples of how behavioral and cognitive sciences have contributed to NICHD accomplishments and identified where these sciences are currently missing in the draft themes. The plan is expected to strongly influence NICHD’s future research directions and funding decisions, including the level of support for behavioral and brain sciences. According to the most recent NICHDevelopments, now that comments have been submitted, NICHD staff will be analyzing the responses and convening small working groups to review and finalize the plan’s research themes. NICHD intends to communicate and implement the plan in June and July. FABBS appreciated the opportunity to comment and will continue to follow the process closely.


FABBS Council Representative for the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology Dragana Claflin, Wright State University; FABBS board member Sandra Graham, UCLA; and FABBS board president, Nora Newcombe, Temple University shaped FABBS' comments.


FABBS responded to a request for comment from OBSSR about the definition of behavioral and social science research. FABBS encouraged OBSSR to be mindful not only of the accuracy of the definition, but also how it would be used as part of the NIH-wide Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization. RCDC is used to measure how much NIH invests in specific research topics, including the behavioral sciences. FABBS recognizes the challenge of accurately measuring the proportion of a given grant in different disciplines, however, the current NIH RCDC process disproportionately overstates the investment in behavioral and social sciences.










Friends of NIDA Present Cannabinoid Research on the Hill


On February 27th, FABBS co-sponsored a Congressional briefing held by the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) on “Opportunities and Challenges in Cannabinoid Research”.


The well-attended briefing began with an overview of the state of cannabis research, presented by NIDA Director, Nora Volkow, MD. Volkow mentioned that though much attention has been placed on the opioid epidemic, research on marijuana and its effects is still urgently needed. A survey from 2017 indicated that over 24 million American adults used marijuana in the last month, and the trend is increasing. In addition, the potency of the main psychoactive component of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has tripled in the past twenty years.


The panel also included researchers – Alan Budney, PhD (Dartmouth College, Geisel School of Medicine), Margaret Haney, PhD (Columbia University, Irving Medical Center), Elise Weerts, PhD (Johns Hopkins, School of Medicine). Budney and Weerts are members of FABBS affiliate, American Psychological Association (APA) Division 28: Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse. 


Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) spoke during the briefing, offering his stance as a physician who has conducted NIH research. Rep. Harris said that if marijuana has a medicinal use, then its effects need to be studied directly and known before being prescribed. Rep. Harris indicated his support of upcoming legislation involving medical marijuana research reform.





EARLY CAREER: Sonya Sterba, PhD, Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology


Quantifying the unobserved: gathering and organizing difficult data


Some people tend to be more agreeable than others. Some suffer more depression symptoms than others. Yet personality traits such as agreeableness, and psychopathological syndromes such as depression, are difficult to measure statistically because they cannot be observed directly.


As a Quantitative psychologist, Sonya Sterba looks for better ways to measure and model such unobserved constructs. Her research both informs and corrects the way researchers interpret results from their own models, and it impacts the way models are used in both clinical practice and in theoretical research.


The first of Dr. Sterba’s three research focus areas concerns “item parceling,” which refers to the common practice of combining subsets of measurements of the same underlying condition, such as depression, to facilitate statistical analysis.


Read more »



















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: Juliane Baron

Contributors: Juliane Baron, Diana Liao, Jennifer Anderson


FABBS Member Societies


American Educational Research Association  •  American Psychological Association  •  Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback  •  Association for Behavior Analysis International  •  Behavior Genetics Association  •  Cognitive Science Society  •  International Society for Developmental Psychobiology  •  Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society  •  National Academy of Neuropsychology  •  The Psychonomic Society  •  Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology  •  Society for Computers in Psychology  •  Society for Judgment and Decision Making  •  Society for Mathematical Psychology  •  Society for Psychophysiological Research  •  Society for Research in Child Development  •  Society for Research in Psychopathology  •  Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues • Society for the Scientific Study of Reading  •  Society for Text & Discourse  •  Society of Experimental Social Psychology  •  Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology  •  Vision Sciences Society



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FABBS promotes human potential and well-being by advancing the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior; promoting scientific research and training in these fields; educating the public about the contributions of research to the health and well-being of individuals and society; fostering communication among scientists; and recognizing scientists who have made significant contributions to building knowledge.


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