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Opportunities for Neuroeconomists at the National Institute on Aging
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Opportunities for Neuroeconomists at the National Institute on Aging and through NIH-wide initiatives. Lis Nielsen Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR), NIA

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Lis nielsen nielsenli nia nih division of behavioral and social research bsr nia

Opportunities for Neuroeconomists at the National Institute on Aging and through NIH-wide initiatives

Lis Nielsen

Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR), NIA

National Institute on Aging

Research priorities at bsr nia

Research Priorities at BSR/NIA

  • Neuroeconomics and Decision Research *

  • Social Neuroscience of Aging *

  • Behavioral Economics

  • Mechanisms of Behavior Change *

  • Integrating genetics into behavioral models

  • Economic Phenotypes *

  • Economics of Aging (Health and Retirement)

  • Training Interdisciplinary Scientists – need good K and F32 applicantsbridging econ/psych/neuroscience *review

National Institute on Aging

Understanding nia

Understanding NIA

  • Aging-relevant research isNOT just the study of older people

  • Lifecourse perspective – aging as a process that unfolds; early life factors impacting trajectories of health and (subjective/economic) well-being in mid-late life

  • Aging-relevant phenomena – self-regulation, motivation, delay discounting, susceptibility to fraud, social influences on decision making – through a lifecourse lens

  • Changing demographic of population impacts structure of institutions, policies, and choices of individuals

National Institute on Aging

Resources at nia

Resources at NIA

  • Recent RFAs (inactive) reflect our ongoing interest in:

    • Neuroeconomics of Aging

    • Social Neuroscience of Aging

  • Priority areas for research training

  • Workshop Reports highlight needs for future research in these and related areas, including genetic approaches:

National Institute on Aging

Emerging opportunities at nia

Emerging Opportunities at NIA

  • Genotyping 20,000 individuals with longitudinal survey data on health and economic behaviors

  • Lab-based methods (imaging) most likely to find heritable phenotypes closely linked to biology

  • But only very large samples will allow genetic model estimation and replication

  • Critical need for lab-survey interface around economic phenotypes

National Institute on Aging

Emerging opportunities at nia1

Emerging Opportunities at NIA

  • Network to advance Decision Neuroscience of Aging

  • Over five years this network grant will support scientific meetings, intensive training workshops for researchers at all stages, and a pilot grant competition for researchers new to the field.

  • Core Network Personnel: Laura Carstensen (Stanford), Samuel McClure (Stanford), Gregory Samanez Larkin (Vanderbildt), Camelia Kuhnen (Northwestern), David Laibson (Harvard)

National Institute on Aging

Lis nielsen nielsenli nia nih division of behavioral and social research bsr nia

“In this economy, it’s crucial to begin every

sentence with ‘in this economy.’”

Nih wide initiatives

NIH-wide initiatives

Science of Behavior Change


Health Economics

National Institute on Aging

Science of behavior change nih roadmap program

Science of Behavior ChangeNIH Roadmap Program

  • Trans-NIH initiative to focus on approaches to improving initiation and maintenance of positive health behaviors

  • Leveraging advances in emerging basic behavioral and social science domains

  • NIH Directors approved Roadmap funding for developmental activities including planning meetings.


National Institute on Aging

Poor health behaviors kill

Poor Health Behaviors Kill

Schroeder et al. (2007, NEJM)

Behavior change is powerful

Behavior Change is Powerful

A 7% weight reduction and 2.5 hour per week activity increase led to a 58% reduction in the cumulative incidence of Type 2 diabetes in insulin-resistant individuals (Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group, 2002).

Balkanization of behavior change

Balkanization of Behavior Change




Increase Exercise

Smoking Cessation






17 different ICs support research in (very specific areas of) behavior change.


Emergence of transdisciplinary science

Emergence of Transdisciplinary Science









Behavior Change

Relevant science is rapidly emerging but is not optimally focused on Behavior Change.


Sobc roadmap rfa rm 10 002 focused on mechanisms of change

SOBC Roadmap RFA-RM-10-002 Focused on Mechanisms of Change

Mechanisms of decision-making

e.g., risk perception, temporal discounting

Mechanisms of control and self-monitoring:

e.g., executive function, interoceptive awareness, emotion regulation;

Mechanisms of social and cultural transmission of behaviors and of interpersonal transaction:

e.g., contagion, mimicry, modeling, norms, peer effects, competition;

Structural mechanisms:

e.g., choice architectures, defaults, environmental affordances;

Neurobiological and genetic mechanisms:

e.g., related to these processes, including those associated with individual differences in biophysiologic capacity or psychological resilience/vulnerability.

National Institute on Aging

Oppnet mission and goals

OppNet: Mission and Goals

  • To strengthen basic Behavioral and Social Science Research (b-BSSR) across NIH institutes, innovating beyond existing investments

  • Build a body of knowledge about the nature of behavior and social systems, focused on basic mechanisms of behavior and social processes

  • Three domains:

    • Behavioral and Social Processes (e.g., learning, social cognition, group processes, migration patterns)

    • Biobehavioral and Biosocial Research (e.g., social, cognitive, affective and economic neurosciences)

    • Methodology and measurement (e.g., data collection, modeling, research design)

Oppnet fy2011 foas

OppNet FY2011 FOAs


2 yr; $275K total direct costs. Due Date: January 6, 2011 * Related to SOBC

1) to precisely identify and operationally reconcile the basic processes and mechanisms involved in self-regulation of cognition, emotion, and behavior, and refine their measurement and theoretical conceptualizations, 2) to assess relations among various self-regulatory functions and their sub-components, and 3) to systematically characterize changes in self-regulatory functions over time, across different social and environmental contexts, and across the lifespan


RFA-CA-10-017 Due Date: December 14, 2010

Scientific meetings for creating interdisciplinary research teams in emerging b-BSSR (R13)

2 year; $50K/year direct

RFA-NR-11-002 Due Date: January 6, 2011

Short-term Interdisciplinary Research Education Program for New Investigators (R25)

1 year; $150K direct costs.

Lis nielsen nielsenli nia nih division of behavioral and social research bsr nia

Research Community Input Shapes OppNet’s Directions:

OppNet Meeting: Expanding Opportunities in

Basic Behavioral and Social Science


Thursday and Friday, October 28-29, 2010

Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill

400 New Jersey Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20001

Free registration

Visit OppNet’s website for more information:

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