Highlight: What Is RDoC?
The Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project aims to classify mental illnesses in a personalized way, based on dimensions of observable behavior and neurobiological measures. RDoC provides researchers with a framework in which to categorize study participants based on genomics, cognitive dimensions, physiological traits, or imaging findings, rather than on existing diagnostic categories.
Highlight: What Is a Target?
A "target" refers to a hypothesized mechanism of action and its ability to modify disease, behavior, or functional outcomes.
Using innovative technology to turn back the clock on cultured skin cells to induce an earlier developmental stage (i.e., induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs), researchers can now differentiate these iPSCs into neurons with an individual’s own genetic signature. In less than two weeks, these cultured neurons can be used to study the disease process in a specific individual.
Highlight: Skyline Drivers
Researchers have identified many genes implicated in schizophrenia; plotting these schizophrenia-associated genes on a graph produces a "skyline" pattern that has grown much taller in the past few years. A new technique can precisely target gene variants, allowing study of the cellular machinery involved and, one day, potentially providing a therapeutic tool.
Highlight: Slicing Optional
The brain's normally opaque fat can be replaced with a clear gel, using a new technique that allows researchers to see individual neurons in 3-D. Instead of slicing the brain into flat segments, researchers can now examine brain connections between neurons in the context of the entire structure.
Highlight: Beautiful Convolutions
As the brain develops, it folds into grooves and wrinkles through a process called "gyrification." With noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, researchers can now observe these convolutions in the brains of healthy infants, and have noted that different areas of the brain develop at different rates early in life.
Highlight: GPS for the Brain? BrainSpan Atlas Offers Clues to Mental Illnesses
The BrainSpan Atlas of the Developing Brain has created a comprehensive 3-D blueprint of the brain that shows where and when different genes are activated during pregnancy. These resources are freely available to the public.
Highlight: Toward Signposts for Precision Medicine
NIMH is aiming for precision medicine by funding research to find biomarkers that are simple, inexpensive, and reliable predictors of treatment response.
Highlight: Ketamine: A New (and Faster) Path to Treating Depression
The rapid action in clinical tests of a drug called ketamine, which lifted depression in as little as two hours in people with treatment-resistant depression, has shown that it is possible to develop treatments that work in hours instead of weeks.
Highlight: Learning Mental Health System—Narrowing the Gap from Science to Service
By collecting mental health data through electronic health records, researchers have created a "learning mental health system" that refines treatments based on outcomes in health centers and systems.
Highlight: A Therapist in One’s Pocket: mHealth to Improve Access to Mental Health Care
Mobile technology is rapidly changing how researchers can interact with patients and collect data. Devices that people use every day, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, can allow researchers to improve access to patients, extend therapist impact, and create a real-time picture of patients' mental states.