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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Celebrating 75 Years! Learn More >>

Integrative Behavioral Neuroscience Program


The Integrative Behavioral Neuroscience Program supports integrative systems-level studies using innovative approaches that connect micro, meso, and macro scale neural signals to understand how neural circuits encode and represent complex behaviors important for mental health. Of interest are studies that probe the neural circuits that subserve reward and motivation, cognitive function, learning and memory, and social/affective neuroscience.

The program encourages research that proposes causal experimental designs, utilizes cutting-edge behavioral and neurobiological approaches, and combines multiple levels of analysis to understand how neural circuits represent, encode, and compute complex behaviors.

Of special interest are studies that utilize transformative and quantitative behavioral approaches, such as machine learning methods, to interrogate neural circuits that underlie domains of behavioral function consistent with Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), as well as domains of behavioral function that go beyond functional constructs defined under RDoC.

This program also supports integrative studies across diverse populations of individuals to better understand the differences in neurobehavioral processes relevant to mental health.

Areas of Emphasis

  • Neural mechanisms of reward processing, including social and non-social reward valuation, effort valuation, and reward processing
  • Causal experimental studies linking different levels of analysis to in vivo systems-level neurophysiological measures of circuit activity (e.g., temporal dynamics) and how it relates to reward processes, social/affective, and cognitive functions
  • Hypothesis-driven studies seeking to integrate micro, meso, and macro scale approaches to examine neural circuit functions (e.g., simultaneous measures of spiking activity, LFPs with ECoG, and/or the BOLD fMRI)
  • Developmental trajectories of neural circuit function and the neural bases of sex differences in mental health relevant behaviors
  • Largescale screens and quantitative analysis of the behavioral and neurophysiological effects of neuronal activity manipulations in mammalian systems using high-resolution, high-throughput approaches for multi-dimensional data sets

Areas of Lower Priority

  • Projects that do not integrate multiple levels of analysis
  • Basic neuroscience studies of motor, sensory (visual, olfactory, auditory, taste, tactile), and peripheral systems and homeostatic mechanisms (hunger, thirst, thermoregulation etc.)
  • Studies based upon single region or static conceptual models of brain function and behavior
  • Projects that investigate candidate genes lacking genome-wide association
  • Establishment or use of a “model of” a disease (e.g., based on purported face validity and interpretation of behaviors as symptoms; see NOT-MH-19-053 )

Fernando Fernandez, Ph.D.
Program Chief
6001 Executive Boulevard