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Cognitive Science Branch

The Cognitive Science Branch (CgSB) applies linguistic, statistical, and knowledge-based research and development in the investigation of techniques for improving access to biomedical information. Innovative CgSB research:

  • Builds and improves systems that extract biomedical information from free text
  • Seeks to determine the accessibility and understandability of health information
  • Develops systems to help users retrieve and integrate electronic biomedical information
  • Investigates all aspects of creating and disseminating digital library collections
  • Tests theories to enhance or improve current research and development activities

Additionally, branch members actively participate in developing and maintaining the Unified Medical Language System and collaborate with research staff to develop automated and semi-automated techniques for indexing biomedical literature


  • The Indexing Initiative (II) project investigates language-based and machine learning methods for the automatic selection of subject headings for use in both semi-automated and fully automated indexing environments at NLM. Its major goal is to facilitate the retrieval of biomedical information from textual databases such as MEDLINE.

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    The consumer health question answering project was launched to support NLM customer services that receive about 90,000 requests a year from a world-wide pool of customers.

  • Computational de-identification seeks to remove all of the identifiers in such narrative text in order to produce de-identified documents that can be used in research while protecting patient privacy.

  • Genetics Home Reference (GHR) is the National Library of Medicine Web site for consumer information about genetic conditions and the genes and chromosomes related to those conditions.

  • LHNCBC's Lexical Systems Group develops and maintains the SPECIALIST lexicon and the tools that support and exploit it. The SPECIALIST Lexicon and NLP Tools are at the center of NLM's natural language research, providing a foundation for all our natural language processing efforts.

  • The LHNCBC Medical Ontology Research project encompasses basic research on biomedical terminologies and ontologies and their applications to natural language processing, clinical decision support, translational medicine, data integration and interoperability.

  • The Profiles in Science Web site showcases digital reproductions of items selected from the personal manuscript collections of prominent biomedical researchers, medical practitioners, and those fostering science and health. The Web site provides worldwide access to this unique biomedical information.

  • Detail of several medication tablets

    RxNav is an interface to the RxNorm database, designed for displaying relations among drug entities. In addition to the browser, we created SOAP-based and RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs) enabling users to integrate RxNorm in their applications.

  • The Semantic Knowledge Representation project conducts basic research in symbolic natural language processing based on the UMLS knowledge sources. A core resource is the SemRep program, which extracts semantic predications from text. SemRep was originally developed for biomedical research.