Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), a National Institute of Mental Health initiative
The reason for such failures reside, partly at least, in the categories for which the biomarkers are being searched, which are those provided by the DSM and the ICD (the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases). Possibly there are no biomarkers for the symptom clusters these classifications identify as diagnostic categories. Hence the NIMH initiative, launched in 2011, to turn away from DSM categories and develop “Research Domain Criteria” (RDoC) aimed at transforming psychiatric diagnosis via the convergence of genetics, neuroimaging, and cognitive science (Insel et al. 2010; Insel 2013; Kapur, Phillips, and Insel 2012).
RDoC represent a new angle in the search for neurobiological markers but not a radical new departure. In fact, they maintain intact the established neurobiological view of mental disorder, with its focus on discrete biological mechanisms at the expense of a more integrated “ecosocial” approach (Kirmayer and Crafa 2014). In RDoC, biomarkers will no longer be coupled with DSM categories, but mental illnesses will remain defined as “biological disorders involving brain circuits that implicate specific domains of cognition, emotion, or behavior” (Insel 2013).