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Dimensional approaches to studying the neural bases of psychopathology
Converging evidence indicates that nominally distinct psychiatric diagnoses are not separated by sharp or discontinuous behavioral and neurobiological boundaries. In response, the field has recently begun to embrace a dimensional perspective of illness. This symposium will present work on four questions central to the study of behavioral and neurobiological variation in psychopathology. First, we will examine how the functioning of large-scale brain networks might influence symptom dimensions within, or across unipolar depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Second, we will present data on how higher-order spectra of psychopathology relate to broad network features of brain structure. Third, we will highlight work suggesting the dimensions identified by the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) system capture differences in neural functioning, cognitive impairments, and treatment needs in people with psychosis far better than DSM diagnoses. Finally, we will present a conceptual framework and data connecting Research Domain Criteria constructs to HiTOP dimensions. Linking brain functioning to individual differences in clinical psychopathology and associated symptoms profiles represents a tremendous opportunity for the field. The work presented here aims to enable future advances in our understanding of pathogenesis of psychiatric illness, paving the way for the development and evaluation of new treatment strategies and classification schemes.