Category: News

Washington, DC - The National Institutes of Health is awarding seven projects a total of $18.15 million over five years to a new effort focused on interoception—the ways in which organisms sense and regulate signals within their bodies. Interoception is not well understood and is a new area of research focus for NIH. This coordinated effort, which involves multiple NIH Institutes and Centers, will address critical knowledge gaps and challenges in understanding interoception that are not tackled by other major NIH research initiatives.

The interoception research effort is part of NIH’s Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, and the seven studies receiving grants are expected to advance researchers’ understanding of nervous system function and disorders and the role of interoception in human health.

“Dysfunctions in interoception may play important roles in many neurological, psychiatric, and behavioral disorders,” said Helene Langevin, M.D., director of NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). “Gaining a better understanding of how interoception works may help us develop better ways to treat these conditions.”

The Blueprint for Neuroscience Research is a collaborative framework through which 14 NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices, including NCCIH, jointly support research on the nervous system. The seven projects funded through this award will study the neural circuits involved in functional communication between organ systems and the brain for processes such as digestion, metabolism, and breathing in experimental model systems. They will also seek to understand the health consequences of disrupting signals between the brain and these organ systems.

“Research is needed to understand how a host of bodily functions interact with our neural circuits to determine ‘how we feel,’ and how neural activity automatically modulates critical body functions on a continuous basis. Understanding the integration of neural systems with our bodies may lead to treatment for a host of illnesses, and help many to ‘feel better’,” said Walter Koroshetz, M.D., director of the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

The seven projects funded by the Blueprint for Neuroscience Research are:

“Interoceptive processes play important roles in a range of different cognitive and emotional behaviors. Basic research studies, such as those supported under the Blueprint Initiative, will provide the foundational anatomical and functional data needed to further our understanding of interoception, and to foster future studies focusing on how dysfunction in interoceptive pathways might contribute to mental illnesses and other brain disorders,” said Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health.