When it comes to "mental" health, your brain has 5 main functions.

Health Neuroscience is radically changing our understanding of the brain + emotional functioning. After almost a century of a symptom-based framework, the National Institutes of Health in 2015 announced a brain-based program to guide the world's top brain researchers. Called the RDoC, or Research Domain Criteria, it points to 5 domains of brain function that are the core to our ability to begin functioning in the world. 

At the highest level these 5 "domains" control brain function and our ability to:

1. Get along with ourselves
2. Get along with others. 

And because it is based in academic neuroscience, and therefore not the easiest read, here is a simpler version that's easier to remember. Make a fist (thumb on the outside) with your right hand and read C-SPAN on the fingers you meet from Left to Right. 


1. Cognitive 

To think. Cognition refers to the ability to compute, to think. The areas this covers include our ability to pay attention, to remember facts + details, but also to process "primary" senses like touch, feel, and to compute where our bodies are in space. 

2. Social Processes

Like the "thumb" that separates out humans from many other species, humans are social creatures who interact with one another in groups to keep one another safe, share experiences, and accomplish common goals. Broadly this refers to three things, the ability to percieve and understand one's self, the ability to percieve and understand others, and to have an Affiliation or Attachment to other people.

3. Positive Systems

These Positive Valence Systems encompass the different emotions and motivations related to how we select what we DO want in our world. How we motivate ourselves to seek out and attain those things important to us.

4. Arousal and Regulatory Systems 

This is a fancy term for controlling your body's energy. Making sure we have the right amount of energy at the right time to accomplish what we need to. To stay awake and sleep, and to do so in the right pattern over time. 

5. Negative

These Negative Valence Systems are the states related to how we select what we DON'T want in our world. How we maintain vigilance against threat, how we What worries us, processing anger, anxiety, fear.