NIH launches research focus on brain-body function

Sept. 7, 2021

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is awarding seven projects a total of $18.15 million over five years in a new effort focused on interoception, which refers to 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, the organization said. 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.

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, MD, Director of the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

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