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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Celebrating 75 Years! Learn More >>

Regulatory and Systems Neuroscience Program


This program supports basic, circuit-level studies that examine the mechanisms of brain and behavioral regulation, including the development, organization, and function of neural circuits that underlie complex mental health relevant behaviors.

Areas of Emphasis

  • Neural circuits and mechanisms that underlie negative valence systems that mediate defensive responses to aversive situations and contexts including acute, potential and sustained threats.
  • Understanding the impact of neural circuit interactions and causal manipulations of neural projections on negative valence systems
  • Examination of neurophysiological temporal dynamics associated with formation, storage, and manipulation of multi-dimensional representations of complex mental health relevant behaviors
  • Mechanisms of sleep interaction with neural circuits that support cognitive functions, emotion processing, learning and memory.
  • Characterization of the neural mechanisms that underlie development of circuits and behavior
  • Hypothesis-driven multi-disciplinary mechanistic studies that investigate a causal link between the gut microbiome and development and function of brain circuits that subserve mental health behaviors

Areas of Lower Priority

  • Studies of molecular circadian mechanisms, behavioral circadian phenomenon, shift work, jet lag, and biological clocks
  • Neural mechanisms of homeostatic behavioral responses
  • Basic mechanistic studies of motor systems and motor function
  • Studies that apply a single level of analysis
  • Projects that investigate candidate genes lacking genome-wide association
  • Projects not advancing the knowledge of the neural bases of fear learning toward prevention and treatment of fear and anxiety disorders

Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their proposals with the Institute contact listed below prior to the submission of their application to ascertain that their proposed work is aligned with NIMH funding priorities.

Applications should adhere to published recommendations detailed in a notice in the NIH Guide (NOT-14-004 ) and summarized in Enhancing the Reliability of NIMH-Supported Research through Rigorous Study Design and Reporting on the NIMH website.


Aleksandra Vicentic, PhD
Program Chief
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7186, MSC 9637