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Psychophysiology: Special Issue Features RDoC Initiative

Science Update

The March 2016 issue of the journal Psychophysiology will be a special one focused on NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative. As special editors of the issue, Drs. Christopher Patrick and Greg Hajcak offer a fresh perspective on the initiative and a platform for discussion among researchers involved in RDoC-related research.

RDoC is a research framework that supports new ways of studying mental disorders. It is designed to integrate many levels of information (including self-report, behavior, genetics, brain imaging, and other types of psychophysiology) in order to better understand the relationship between biology and behavior in mental illness. Its ultimate goal is to provide data that could eventually transform the way mental illnesses are diagnosed and treated.

Special editors, Drs. Patrick and Hajcak noted, “Two especially notable aspects of the initiative are the concrete framework it provides for coordinating scientific efforts and its openness to constructive revision based on new emerging knowledge..” Dr. Gregory A. Miller, who chairs the Publication Committee of the Society for Psychophysiological Research, added, “Psychophysiological strategies are central in how the RDoC framework fosters the development and validation of new, hybrid constructs”.

The contributing authors are from six leading psychophysiology laboratories and present a diverse array of theoretical and empirical perspectives. Notable experts offer a perspective on these articles, allowing a comprehensive discussion among contributors and NIMH and RDoC leaders, Dr. Michael Kozak, Chief of NIMH’s Adult Psychopathology Branch, and Dr. Bruce Cuthbert, Acting Director of NIMH.

“This special issue was a unique opportunity for researchers to engage with one another and reflect on work being done in various laboratories throughout the country,” said Dr. Cuthbert. “It’s encouraging to see that many investigators are already engaging actively in the kind of work that RDoC advocates. What this shows is that while the RDoC acronym may be new, the principles behind RDoC are certainly not new to psychiatric research,” Dr. Cuthbert said.

Read the recently published Special Issue of Psychophysiology here . If you are a researcher and would like to join the conversation about RDoC, follow the RDoC unit on Twitter ( ). Anyone with general questions or comments about RDoC is invited to email the RDoC team via