NIH – NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research: Functional Neural Circuits of Interoception (R01, Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

September 11, 2020 by


The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research is a collaborative framework through which 14 NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices jointly support neuroscience related research, with the aim of accelerating discoveries and reducing the burden of nervous system disorders (for further information, see

The goal of this FOA is to enhance our fundamental understanding of interoception with a specific focus on dissecting and determining the function of neural circuits that connects peripheral organs/tissues with the central nervous system (CNS) via peripheral ganglia. For this FOA, interoception science includes studies of the processes by which an organism senses, interprets, integrates, and regulates signals originating from within itself. This FOA encourages projects that combine diverse expertise and use innovative approaches to delineate interoceptive mechanisms at the molecular, cellular, circuitry, functional, and/or behavioral levels. Outcomes of this research will lay a critical foundation for future translational and clinical research on interoception as well as its roles in nervous system disorders. Studies of interoceptive neural circuits exclusively within the CNS may be more appropriate for The BRAIN Initiative funding opportunities. Applications in response to this FOA should budget for an annual investigator meeting organized by the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research. Human subject research is not allowed for this FOA.


Neuroscience has gained a tremendous understanding of how we sense and interact with our external world through research into the primary exteroceptive sensory systems of vision, audition, olfaction, taste, and somatosensation. We know less about the interoceptive system – the nervous system’s ability to sense and regulate our own internal milieu. On April 16-17, 2019, the National Institutes of Health, Blueprint for Neuroscience Research convened a 2-day workshop on “The Science of Interoception and Its Roles in Nervous System Disorders.” At the workshop, a distinguished group of investigators highlighted recent findings and discussed a wide range of topics critical to the future of interoception research. This workshop addressed some of the key issues in interoception research, including the definition of interoception, the scope of interoception science, interoceptive signaling via specialized “interoceptors,” specialized ascending and descending neuroanatomical pathways, normative functions and disease implications, and potential interventions, as well as the integration of internal and external representations of the world from an experimental and computational modeling perspective.

The workshop also identified many critical knowledge gaps and challenges not currently tackled by major NIH research initiatives such as the BRAIN Initiative and the NIH Common Fund Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) Initiative or by individual NIH neuroscience institutes and centers via their regular programmatic activities. These critical areas include: 1) characterization of functional circuits and interaction dynamics between central and peripheral nervous systems in physiological conditions; 2) delineation of the interaction between interoceptive networks involved in basic physiological processes (e.g. respiration, thirst, feeding, urination, metabolism, etc.) and other sensory, motor, reward, emotional, cognitive/memory, and social circuits to regulate brain diseases and disorders; 3) determining the impact of central or peripheral disorders on interoceptive networks and the effects of modulating interoceptive processes on associated diseases and disorders; and 4) the need for objective and quantitative assessments of interoception as well as effective technologies and approaches to measure and modulate interoceptive processes. As part of a coordinated effort to address the critical knowledge gaps in interoception research, this FOA intends to support interoception science research focused on functional neural circuit analysis of interoceptive processes in animal models, although ex vivo studies may be included to enhance the mechanistic understanding. Research supported under this FOA will provide the critical neural basis for future translational and clinical studies of interoception.

Key Dates:

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): November 18, 2020
Letter of Intent Due Date(s): November 18, 2020
Application Due Date(s): December 18, 2020

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Filed Under: Funding Opportunities