News Release 18-075

NSF funds new integrative approaches to cognitive science, neuroscience

Awards $16 million for cross-cutting research into neural and cognitive systems

Neural and cognitive science projects will advance the frontiers of fundamental brain research.

Neural and cognitive science projects will advance the frontiers of fundamental brain research.

September 11, 2018

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded funding to 18 cross-disciplinary projects to conduct innovative research on neural and cognitive systems.

The awards contribute to NSF's investments in support of Understanding the Brain and the BRAIN Initiative, a coordinated research effort that seeks to accelerate the development of new neurotechnologies.

"The teams will integrate multiple disciplines to look at fundamental questions about the brain in new ways," said Shubhra Gangopadhyay, NSF program director in the Engineering Directorate. "The research will tackle problems that were previously intractable for neuroscience and cognitive science and will open up new avenues for future research. We are excited to see where these high-risk, high-reward proposals take us as a field."

The 18 funded projects will advance the frontiers of foundational research in four focus areas:

  • Neuroengineering and brain-inspired concepts and designs
  • Individuality and variation
  • Cognitive and neural processes in realistic, complex environments
  • Data-intensive neuroscience and cognitive science

The projects will leverage advanced research within and across these focus areas to investigate how neural and cognitive systems interact with education, engineering and computer science, as part of the NSF Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems (NCS) program. The NCS program supports innovative, boundary-crossing efforts to push the frontiers of brain science.

Funded proposals will develop new methods such as closed loop systems to measure and manipulate neuronal activity, create tools for studying the nervous systems of difficult-to-study organisms, use new approaches to understand the brain by integrating information across many levels of analysis, and merge computer science and neuroimaging to discover new insights into learning.

Four NSF directorates -- Computer and Information Science and Engineering; Education and Human Resources; Engineering; and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences -- are co-funding the interdisciplinary approaches intended to advance fundamental research in neuroscience as well as the fields of engineering, behavioral science and education that benefit from further neuroscientific understanding.

The 18 newly awarded projects are:


Media Contacts
Ivy F. Kupec, NSF, (703) 292-8796, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

mail icon Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page:
NSF News:
For the News Media:
Science and Engineering Statistics:
Awards Searches: