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Cognitive Neuroscience (CogNeuro)

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.

Supports research aimed at increasing understanding of the neural mechanisms of human cognition, including attention, learning, memory, decision making, language, social cognition and emotions.

Supports research aimed at increasing understanding of the neural mechanisms of human cognition, including attention, learning, memory, decision making, language, social cognition and emotions.


The Cognitive Neuroscience (CogNeuro) Program seeks to fund proposals that can advance our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying human cognition and behavior. Funded proposals typically advance theories in cognitive neuroscience by relating precise and rich quantifications of physiology, cognition and behavior with each other (Intellectual Merit). Funded proposals also typically strengthen the field through, for example, outreach, mentoring the next generation of diverse cognitive neuroscientists and/or increasing awareness and utilization of the research the field produces (Broader Impacts).

Intellectual Merit
In general, successful proposals provide a theoretical motivation for a series of experiments and analyses that test the differential predictions of that theory; they go beyond quantifying physiology associated with cognition and behavior. Research topics considered for funding include but are not limited to: action, perception, imagery, recognition, categorization, learning and memory, working memory, attention, language, problem solving, decision-making and social reasoning. Commensurate with the inherently multidisciplinary nature of the field and the limitations of any single technique, a wide variety of physiological methods are considered, including but not limited to: neuroimaging (e.g., fMRI, EEG, MEG), non-invasive stimulation (e.g. TMS, tES), lesion analysis, intracranial recording, optogenetics, genetics, optical imaging, computational modeling and pharmacological interventions in both human and non-human primates and other animal models. The program is particularly interested in proposals that achieve or enable convergence across multiple techniques.

Critically, proposals will be returned without review if they are focused on: (1) either behavior or physiology and lack a specific link between them, (2) understanding clinical populations or 3) non-human animals without a clear benefit to our understanding of humans.

Broader Impacts
In general, successful proposals seek to make impacts beyond traditional academic routes, such as having the PIs publish research or teach undergraduate courses. Strong broader impacts can be quite varied but will typically involve specific efforts strengthening the field and/or increasing its visibility by leveraging the characteristics of the institution, department and/or researcher. Consider the following non-exhaustive examples:

  1. STEM education and outreach, particularly in underserved communities.
  2. Directly involving undergraduates and high-school students in research.
  3. Making tools and applications available, discoverable, and easily useable by, the general public.
  4. Science journalism or communication.

These efforts often relate to the proposed research, but suitable broader impacts with less direct connections to the specific research may also be proposed. PIs are encouraged to include these efforts in their proposal budgets if warranted. Refer to the Dear Colleague Letter: A Broader Impacts Framework for Proposals Submitted to NSF's Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate for more information.

Post-Doc Mentoring Plans
Strong mentoring plans generally go beyond inclusion in standard lab activities and incorporate specific ideas for forwarding the careers of young scientists and trainees that leverage the setting and content of the proposed research.

General Directions
Prior to the development of a full proposal, investigators are strongly encouraged to submit a one-page summary of the proposed research to a program director to evaluate its appropriateness for the CogNeuro Program. Please contact the program director early enough to allow for revisions and incorporation of what may be extensive feedback. The summary should include an overview of your research and statements of intellectual merit and broader impacts, the two NSF review criteria.

See the Merit Review Fact Sheet for more important facts about the NSF merit review process. Please read the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) carefully, as it will be strictly followed .

Currently, the average standard/CAREER award size is about $225K/175K per year for 3 to 5 years. Awards in excess of 1M are exceptionally rare and almost always multidisciplinary. Please be judicious in your requests, understanding the realities of the limited funding available for all proposals. See the listing of active Cognitive Neuroscience awards for additional award information.

Declined proposals are ineligible for resubmission until a minimum of one year has passed since the due date of their initial submission, unless specifically allowed by the Program Director in the feedback received during the decline process. This moratorium allows investigators the time required to digest the results of the merit review and revise their proposal accordingly. A proposal that has not been substantially revised will be returned without review as per the PAPPG.

PIs are strongly encouraged to submit the Single Copy Document titled “List of Suggested Reviewers” with their full proposal. Sharing of data and other materials is an expectation for funded research. Please consult the NSF Dear Colleague Letter: Effective Practices for Data for more details.

Interested in talking with a Program Director? Send a one-page description of the proposed research to sbe-cogneuro@nsf.gov or submit a concept outline using the Program Suitability and Proposal Concept Tool (ProSPCT).

Program contacts

Elizabeth F. Chua
Program Director
echua@nsf.gov (703) 292-5187 SBE/BCS
Dwight Kravitz
Program Director
dkravitz@nsf.gov (703) 292-4502 SBE/BCS
Kenyatta Johnson
Program Specialist
kenjohns@nsf.gov (703) 292-4850 SBE/BCS

Awards made through this program

Browse projects funded by this program
Map of recent awards made through this program