NIH funding opportunity – Research on the Mechanisms and/or Behavioral Outcomes of Multisensory Processing (R01)

September 22, 2015 by School of Medicine Webmaster   |   Leave a Comment

This FOA supports innovative studies using animal or human subjects to examine two or more senses (visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, somatosensory including pain or other submodalities of body senses, and vestibular) for the elucidation of mechanisms and behavioral outcomes of multisensory processing.  Therefore, applications submitted to this FOA should focus on mechanisms, or the behavioral impact, or both.   The initiative encourages the use of diverse methodologies, including basic biochemical, molecular, cellular, genetic approaches, neuroimaging and neurophysiological analyses, experimental psychophysics, “real world” settings, immersive virtual technology, and animal models.

For this FOA, applicants should address multisensory integration across at least two of the broadly different senses (smell, sight, taste, touch, hearing, balance) or the submodalities of body senses including but not restricted to thermosensation, body position and proprioception, pain, itch, and general visceral sensation.   Audio-visual, visual-vestibular and chemo-tactile integration already have been noted as examples.  However, the perception of form by integrating color contrast with shape-from-shading would be considered visual, and integration of linear with angular acceleration would be considered vestibular, and not appropriate here.  This FOA also supports research on the interaction of pain (as part of the somatosensation) with other sensory systems.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Scientific/Research Contacts from various NIH ICs listed in Section VII prior to submission to discuss IC program relevance.

Specific Areas of Research Interest
  • The National Institute on Aging (NIA) supports multisensory research in the context of aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Topics of interest include, but are not restricted to: 1) mechanistic studies to understand changes in multisensory processing in aging or disease; 2) the interplay between multisensory processing and motor, cognitive, or affective function in aging or disease; 3) the impact of multisensory processing on daily functioning (e.g. walking, reaching, grasping, eating, swallowing, and other basic movements) , lifestyle activities (e.g. exercises, navigation, driving, dancing, art activities),  and social interactions in older adults with or without neurodegenerative diseases; 4) assessments of multisensory function as potential early detections of AD or other age-related neurodegenerative diseases; and 5) strategies or therapies to improve multisensory processing and related behaviors in aging or disease.  NIA will support both human and animal model (including invertebrate model) studies.
  • The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is interested in studies that would elucidate mechanisms by which complementary or integrative approaches alter pain processing.  Subjects of interest include, but are not limited to, multisensory pain modulation associated with natural products and mind and body practices   Approaches are limited to those with documented effectiveness or currently being used in pain management.  For the purposes of this FOA, NCCIH will support basic and mechanistic research in both human and animal models but will not support efficacy/effectiveness clinical trials.
  • The National Cancer Institute (NCI) supports multisensory research in the context of cancer and cancer control. Topics of interest include, but are not restricted to: 1) Studies of multisensory interactions with taste that might govern healthy vs unhealthy eating, drinking, or smoking; 2) disruption of multisensory perception by cancer and cancer treatments; 3) the potential for using multisensory interactions to enhance health communications; 4) multisensory control of attention, as might be relevant in complex oncology or cancer care settings; 5) circadian and sleep-dependent influences on multisensory interactions.  NCI will support both human and animal model studies.
  • The National Eye Institute (NEI) supports research that addresses blinding eye diseases, visual disorders, mechanisms of visual function, preservation of sight, and the special health problems and requirements of the blind. Under this PA, NEI will accept applications investigating multisensory interaction (vision combined with additional sensory input) when the research would inform fundamental mechanisms of visual function or disease/disorder mechanisms related to loss of vision. Topics of interest include, but are not restricted to, the impact of other senses on visual perception, the impact of multisensory input on sensory substitution in the visually impaired, and multisensory strategies in low vision rehabilitation.
  • The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is particularly interested in applications pertaining to rehabilitation and child development. Specifically, the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research is interested in research including but not limited to the following: to elucidate changes in the processing of sensory information including visual, auditory, mechanical (touch, pain, temperature) processes after traumatic brain injury, both in the acute stages of injury and at more chronic time points; persistent abnormalities in sensory processing that may affect cognitive processes known to be at risk after traumatic brain injury such as working memory, reading, attention, anger, sleep; changes in sensory perception after stroke that accompany common chronic conditions such as aphasia, spatial neglect, or loss of motor function; factors that lead to  “sensory stroke” or lacunar infarction, and unique approaches to rehabilitation; multisensory processing (vision, proprioception, tactile, etc.) related to the integration of prosthetic devices for functional use by people with amputations; the role of multisensory processing in autonomic dysreflexia and bowel and bladder voiding impairments following spinal cord injury; the role of multisensory processing in pain secondary to a disabling condition such as stroke, spinal cord injury, amputation, or traumatic brain injury.  The Child Development and Behavioral Branch at NICHD is interested in the research applications pertaining to the developmental aspects of multisensory processing.  NICHD will support both human and animal model studies.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) encourages research on multisensory integration in the context of drug abuse and addiction in humans and animal models. Research of interest includes, but is not limited to behavioral, imaging, and mechanistic neurobiological studies of integration and encoding of multisensory cues that trigger drug craving, drug-seeking and relapse; integration of multisensory information involved in reward valuation and decision-making; top-down influences on the salience of multisensory drug-related cues; the effects of drugs of abuse on multi-sensory processing; and multisensory processing of emotional and social cues in drug users or animal models of drug abuse.
  • The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) mission supports research in the areas of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech and language. Multisensory integration is well known to modulate some of these functions even though specific mechanisms are not yet understood well. NIDCD encourages applications where the main goal is to clarify how neuronal mechanisms underlie multisensory modulation of function within the NIDCD mission areas, in humans or animal models, with particular interest when the modulation is in the context of disorder or disease.  As examples, in humans the sense of smell begins in the nose and is carried by olfactory pathways to the cortex, while taste begins in the oral cavity and is carried by gustatory pathways to the cortex; these two separate sensations, coming from entirely different cranial nerve systems, are integrated to form the common multisensory perception of flavor. This combined percept itself can be modified further by visual and tactile stimuli such as color and smoothness, and a disorder in any of these pathways can affect appetite, nutrition and well-being.  Similarly, our sense of balance depends on inputs from the vestibular organs of the inner ear along with substantial multisensory input from somatosensory and visual systems, and multisensory reweighting is critical for balance when disorders occur in any of the contributing senses. In hearing, auditory misperception often can be improved by vision for functions like sound source localization. NIDCD support for voice, speech and language is focused on disordered processes, but here too audio-visual interactions can be important for speech perception disorders, and language and reading impairments.
  • The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) encourages applications that would inform fundamental mechanisms of how sensory systems impact physiological function of the dental, oral, and craniofacial complex, and, for oral health behaviors, how different sensory modalities interact with and influence one another in determining perception. Discovery of mechanisms underlying hypersensitivity of multiple sensory systems, sometimes seen in chronic pain conditions, is of interest. In particular, studies on neuropathies of craniofacial tissues including temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) and overlapping painful disorders are a high priority. NIDCR also supports research that would further the understanding of how sensory systems impact mastication and adaptations to altered dentition and oral prostheses. NIDCR seeks to further the exploration of how cognitive expectations, memories, and affective states contribute to or modify perceptual and behavioral outcomes which includes but is not limited to inputs that influence the decision to seek dental care, stimuli that impact dental fear or dental anxiety, and psychosocial adjustment to craniofacial disorders.   Applications that propose a clinical trial or study to test an intervention are not appropriate for this FOA and should instead use the R34 mechanism under the NIDCR Clinical Trials Program (NIDCR Behavioral or Social Intervention Clinical Trial Planning Grant (R34) – See more at:
  • The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is interested in applications that focus on mechanisms of multisensory interactions at the cellular, circuit or systems level when such research would inform fundamental knowledge of neurological function or mechanisms related to understanding, treating or reversing the burden of neurological disease.  There are mechanistic interactions among sensory systems neurology, co-morbidities across sensory systems, and implications for sensory substitution for disorders and disabilities. Under this FOA, research topics of interest to NINDS include, but are not limited to: mechanisms of sensory transduction or integration of multiple sensory modalities in the normal nervous system, alterations in multisensory mechanisms in the context of neurological diseases or conditions, or mechanisms of multisensory adaptive or maladaptive plasticity or recovery of function following disease or trauma to the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nervous system.  Primary impacts of the research should inform fundamental mechanisms or disease/disorder mechanisms within the NINDS funding mission (  Applicants should develop specific aims to test mechanistic hypotheses which go beyond descriptive studies of multisensory phenomena.  Applications can investigate mechanisms from sensory transduction, to modality tract tracing, to nervous system recording/imaging/manipulating, to quantitative behavioral assay (i.e., psychophysics) and must contain an in vivo component.  Applications that address technology development are not appropriate and should be submitted to the appropriate bioengineering research grant opportunity (  Applications that seek to develop or test therapeutics or devices for clinical use are not appropriate and should be submitted to the appropriate translational research funding opportunity  Applications that propose a clinical trial or study to test an intervention are not appropriate for this FOA and should instead use the R01 mechanism under the NINDS Exploratory Clinical Trials Program (See more at:
  • The Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) will support research of scientific interest to the participating Institutes and Centers named in this announcement.  ORWH will support applications that propose comparisons between male and female subjects on the outcome measures.

Deadlines:  standard deadlines apply



Filed Under: Funding Opportunities



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