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The FY 2003 Budget Request for the Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) Subactivity is $65.30 million, an increase of $6.79 million, or 11.6 percent, from the FY 2002 Current Plan of $58.51 million.

(Millions of Dollars)


FY 2001

FY 2002
Current Plan

FY 2003




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; children's development; learning and literacy; social behavior and culture; human social, demographic, and cultural variation; human origins and contemporary human biological variation; geographic patterns and processes, geographic information science; and interactions among people 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 science.

Emphasis is placed on collaborative and interdisciplinary projects that build capacity across multiple fields. Activities related to the SBE priority area will focus on human cognition and computational linguistics and their relationship to improvements in human performance. The understanding of the fundamental processes that support basic and higher level cognitive functions, such as perceiving, reasoning, interacting, and communicating, will be improved by coupling theoretical insights with sophisticated experimentation using modern instrumental techniques, including on-line behavioral and physiological data capture, virtual reality simulations of social interactions, and computer-based displays of visual flow fields. This approach should contribute to the development of new methods for enhancing performance in the home, classroom, workplace, and other environments.

Human communication and man-machine interaction will be enhanced through the convergence of new technologies and theoretical advances in the understanding of human language. Lines of inquiry that hold special promise include natural language processing, corpus linguistics, and multi-modal communication. Another rapidly emerging field is cognitive neuroscience. Because of the scale and complexity of work in this area, BCS will fund larger-scale projects and innovative technical developments that will also help train future generations of cognitive neuroscientists. These projects will enhance understandings of the basic mechanisms of cognition, perception, action, language use, and social and affective behavior, and will help explain when and how children and adults learn new knowledge and skills.

Research in the developmental and learning sciences will support integrative studies that increase understandings of cognitive, linguistic, social, cultural, and biological processes related to children and adolescents' learning in formal and informal settings. Ongoing support will be provided for the Children's Research Initiative for research that incorporates multidisciplinary, multi-method, microgenetic, and longitudinal approaches. This initiative will help develop new methods and theories; examine the transfer of knowledge from one domain to another and from one situation to another; assess peer relations, family interactions, social identities, and motivation; examine the impact of family, school, and community resources; assess adolescents' preparation for entry into the workforce; and investigate the role of demographic characteristics and cultural influences on children's learning and development.

BCS will continue its support of research on the essential shared characteristics of human beings within a broad chronological and spatial context. The Humans Origins emphasis (HOMINID) will support several large-scale awards. This emphasis will rely heavily on powerful genetic technology and on the completion of the human genome sequence, and it will pay increasing attention to comparative genomics.

BCS is helping establish a strong infrastructure for future research by supporting work to establish the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS), which will provide free public access to U.S. Census databases from 1790 to the present, including the digitization of all census geography so that place-specific information can be readily used in geographic information systems. Through these activities, the NHGIS will become a resource that can be used more widely for secondary education and training and become a reference resource used by policy makers.

In FY 2003, the BCS Request of $65.30 million will support a range of activities, including:

  • Support for the new SBE priority area at a level of $4.0 million in the areas of linguistics and human cognition, perception, action, and social cognition.

  • Funding for the Cognitive Neuroscience program, which will be maintained at a level of about $7 million. In order to enhance understanding of the relationship between human behavior and brain function, emphasis will be on supporting state-of-the-art work that is informed by theoretical advances in cognition, perception, social psychology, linguistics and human development. Support also will be provided for large-scale meta-analysis of data from multiple subjects.

  • Funding for the Human Origins emphasis (HOMINID), which will be increased by $1.0 million to a level of $2.0 million. This emphasis area will continue to expand knowledge of the origins and development of the human species, the relationship of humans and the world's environments, and human adaptation processes over the last five million to six million years.

  • A new emphasis on research on Geographical Information Science and Spatial Social Science, with an additional $500,000 bringing total support to about $2 million. Focus will be on social science research that is enhanced by place and location and that uses advanced geographic information system (GIS) technologies, including the global positioning system (GPS) and computational techniques for visualization and analysis of geographic information. This emphasis will be developed in cooperation with other NSF directorates, building on existing interagency efforts in geographic information science.

  • Disciplinary and interdisciplinary research on human-environmental interactions, which totals about $10 million. This area includes support for two Human Dimensions of Global Change centers, for Long-Term Ecological Research sites, and for research on the Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems, a major emphasis of the Biocomplexity in the Environment priority area.

  • Support for the Children's Research Initiative, which will be maintained at a level of $5.0 million. This initiative will emphasize research related to enhancing literacy and improving math and science skills.

  • Continued funding for core disciplinary and interdisciplinary research in the geographic, anthropological, cognitive, psychological, and linguistic sciences, which will total about $36 million.
  Last Modified: Sep 17, 2004


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