Professor Michael Cummings Receives 2022 BBI Seed Grant Award

The 2022 Brain and Behavior Institute (BBI) seed grants promote new interdisciplinary collaborations focused on two grand challenges in neuroscience research: aging and development. This year’s awards are also the largest-ever annual investment in seed grants by the BBI.

The panel of external reviewers for the 2022 applications noted the exciting and impactful work being proposed in the fields of development and aging. These applications represented 42 researchers with appointments in 21 departments and institutes across seven UMD colleges and schools. Nine of the 11 researchers funded in 2022 are first-time awardees, and this cohort joins a fellowship of 75 previous BBI seed grant award winners and a community of neuroscientists, engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, cognitive scientists, and humanities scholars dedicated to solving some of the most pressing problems related to nervous system function and disease.

The BBI seed grant program has awarded $2.14M to 33 interdisciplinary neuroscience projects since 2016, which has been translated into $17.9M in external funding. Collaborations forged by the BBI seed grant program have sustained impact on the development of cutting-edge tools and novel methods for the translation of basic science.

One of the projects funded this year was from Biology:

Machine learning analyses of audiological data to predict age-related declines in hearing and cognition

  • Matthew Goupell (HESP)
  • Michael P. Cummings (BIOL, UMIACS)

The reasons for hearing loss are complex, stemming from multiple processes (infection, autoimmune disorders, tumors, environmental noise, and particularly the natural aging process). This project will apply machine learning to help untangle the diverse causes of hearing loss, uncover patterns in hearing loss data that would otherwise be obscured, and assess the ability of training to partially restore hearing and cognitive abilities to those closer to younger individuals. A particular innovation of this proposal is its potential to reach patients who would have been excluded from previous hearing studies because of a possible cognitive impairment. In this study, Goupell and Cummings intend to quantify the listening difficulties of older individuals who are affected by peripheral, central, and cognitive deficits.

To read about the other funded projects, visit the BBI website.