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Whither Research Domain Criteria?

Dean, Charles E., MD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2019 - Volume 207 - Issue 6 - p 419–420
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000985

In 2010, the National Institute of Mental Health launched the Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDoC) as a research framework aimed at advancing research into the etiology of mental disorders, the development of clinically actionable biomarkers, and the eventual development of precision medications. The foundation of RDoC in that first phase rested in the assumption that mental disorders are brain disorders that originate in aberrant neural circuitry, and that therapeutic advances could flow from alterations in that circuitry. RDoC proposed a matrix of psychological constructs with seven levels of analysis ranging from the cell to self-report, but with neural circuitry at the center. In 2016, another model was proposed in which neural circuitry became equivalent to other units of analyses. With the advent of a new Director of the NIMH, the emphasis returned to neural circuitry as a priority, along with computational psychiatry. Have these shifts undermined the RDoC project?

Mental Health Service Line, Minneapolis VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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