Government Relations Update

NIMH asks for feedback on new approach to classifying mental disorders

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has begun an effort to develop a new approach to classifying mental disorders for research purposes.  The goal is to classify disorders in a manner that is based more directly on contemporary behavioral science, neuroscience, and genetics than are existing classification schemes such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  The NIMH effort, which is called the Research Domain Criteria Project (RDoC), aims “to define basic dimensions of functioning (such as fear circuitry or working memory) to be studied across multiple levels of analysis, from genes to neural circuits to behaviors, cutting across disorders as traditionally defined.”  (See the July 2010 Monitor  article for further background.)

As a first step, NIMH has posted a draft document that describes the RDoC process and includes a preliminary list of candidate domains, constructs, and variables for classifying behavioral functions.  NIMH invites comments from the scientific community on all aspects of RDoC, including the initial domain list.  The document will then be revised and serve as the basis for a series of scientific workshops in which participants will aim to achieve consensus on the specifications for various behavioral functions.

Instructions for submitting comments can be found in the formal Request for Information (NOT-MH-11-007).  The deadline for comments is July 1, 2011.