Studying Hallucinations Within the NIMH RDoC Framework

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Abstract

We explore how hallucinations might be studied within the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) framework, which asks investigators to step back from diagnoses based on symptoms and focus on basic dimensions of functioning. We start with a description of the objectives of the RDoC project and its domains and constructs. Because the RDoC initiative asks investigators to study phenomena across the wellness spectrum and different diagnoses, we address whether hallucinations experienced in nonclinical populations are the same as those experienced by people with psychotic diagnoses, and whether hallucinations studied in one clinical group can inform our understanding of the same phenomenon in another. We then discuss the phenomenology of hallucinations and how different RDoC domains might be relevant to their study. We end with a discussion of various challenges and potential next steps to advance the application of the RDoC approach to this area of research.

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