Summary of FY2002 Budget Request to Congress - National Science Foundation


The FY 2002 Budget Request for the Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) Subactivity is $56.56 million, a decrease of $250,000, or 0.4 percent, from the FY 2001 Current Plan of $56.81 million.

(Millions of Dollars)

   FY 2000
FY 2001
Current Plan
FY 2002
Amount Percent
Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences
Total, BCS

The BCS Subactivity supports research and related activities that develop and advance scientific knowledge and methods focusing on human cognition, cognitive neuroscience, language, and learning; children's development, learning, and literacy; social behavior and culture; human social, demographic, and cultural variation; human evolution and contemporary human biological variation; geographic patterns and processes and geographic information science; and interactions between humans and the natural environment. Programs include human cognition and perception, cognitive neuroscience, linguistics, social psychology, developmental and learning sciences, archaeology, cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, and geography and regional sciences.

Emphasis is being placed on collaborative and interdisciplinary projects that can build capacity across multiple fields. One rapidly growing area is cognitive neuroscience. To recognize the scale and complexity of this sort of work, a new Cognitive Neuroscience program will fund larger scale proposals and innovative technical developments and will also help train future generations of cognitive neuroscientists. The goals of introducing new funding for neuroscientific approaches within BCS are to: enhance support of research on the basic mechanisms of cognition and perception; provide substantially larger and longer grants in recognition of the higher cost of conducting such studies; foster collaborations among investigators from different fields who would benefit by working together; and support basic developmental cognitive neuroscience studies of the brain mechanisms that help explain when and how children and adults learn new knowledge and skills.

The essential shared characteristics of human beings represent the culmination of millions of years of development, and can only be understood when set in a broad chronological and spatial context. Thus the past has the ability to inform the present. An understanding of human change over time requires that the lineage be viewed as one of many that interact with each other and that adapt to highly variable and unpredictable environmental conditions. Such issues involve long-standing questions that bear on the essence of who we are as a species. They shape our understanding of how we relate to our environment today and into the future. With the greater availability of powerful genetic technology and the completion of the human genome sequence, increasing attention is turning to comparative genomics. Along these lines, BCS will provide large-scale support for work that attempts to document primate biomaterials so that it can inform the social and behavioral research community. These and other considerations have led to establishing a Humans Origins emphasis that will provide sufficient funding to support several annual large scale awards.

Research in the developmental and learning sciences supports integrative studies that increase our understanding of cognitive, linguistic, social, cultural, and biological processes related to children's and adolescents' learning in formal and informal settings. Also supported in this area is research that incorporates multidisciplinary, multi-method, microgenetic, and longitudinal approaches; develops new methods and theories; examines transfer of knowledge from one domain to another and from one situation to another; assesses peer relations, family interactions, social identities, and motivation; examines the impact of family, school, and community resources; assesses adolescents' preparation for entry into the workforce; and investigates the role of demographic characteristics and cultural influences on children's learning and development. Ongoing support will also be provided for the Children's Research Initiative, to support several centers and other activities.

In FY 2002, the BCS Request of $56.56 million will support a range of activities, including:

  • Maintenance of large-scale funding at a level of $10.0 million to continue the Cognitive Neuroscience program that is aimed at understanding the relationship between cognitive processing and brain function. The emphasis in FY2002 will be on bridging neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience. This program will include considerable support for a variety of training options.

  • Support for the Children's Research Initiative will be maintained at $5.0 million. This will include continued funding for centers and individual investigator awards related to theory-driven, basic and applied research on children, learning, and the influences of families. In addition, there will be an increased focus on research related to enhancing literacy and improving math and science skills. BCS will maintain support for this initiative at this level for five years, with future funding more likely to emphasize support for multidisciplinary, integrated research centers.

  • Funding for the Human Origins emphasis will increase by $500,000 in order to continue to expand knowledge of the origins and development of the human species, our relationship with the world's environments, and human adaptation processes over the last 5-6 million years.

  • Support will continue for both disciplinary and interdisciplinary research on human-environmental interactions, including support for two Human Dimensions of Global Change centers, support for Long-Term Ecological Research sites, and support to complement research on Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems, a major emphasis of the Biocomplexity in the Environment priority area.

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