Neural Mediators of Psychotherapeutic Change Strategic Initiative
The Neural Mediators of Psychotherapeutic Change Strategic Initiative builds upon recent developments in the mental health research landscape. A national research initiative called the Human Connectome Project (HCP) is assembling a database of brain images, physiological recordings, and biological material from volunteers from the general population who don’t have a mental illness diagnosis. The HCP is making its findings widely available for research studies and provides a reference database for the “normal” brain. Simultaneously, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which funds the HCP, is supporting research to explore the validity of a new model for mapping out individual differences in mental function, called the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) matrix. Today, patients are diagnosed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), which outlines specific conditions as individual entities. RDoC is more of a dimensional system that views normal and pathological functioning along a set of continua or dimensions.
These developments provide a great opportunity to think about mental illness characterization in new ways, and the Austen Riggs Center is uniquely positioned to do this type of research. Our patients come to us with complex psychiatric disorders and we offer a treatment program of great depth and breadth. Through this project, Riggs will unite its sophisticated clinical evaluation with contemporary neuroscience and dimensional tools, with the goal of studying the “brain-mind connection” and developing better characterizations of psychiatric disorders.