Incorporating neurophysiological measures into clinical assessments: Fundamental challenges and a strategy for addressing them

Christopher J. Patrick, William G. Iacono, Noah C. Venables

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Recent scientific initiatives have called for increased use of neurobiological variables in clinical and other applied assessments. However, the task of incorporating neural measures into psychological assessments entails significant methodological challenges that have not been effectively addressed to date. As a result, neurophysiological measures remain underutilized in clinical and applied assessments, and formal procedures for integrating such measures with report-based measures are lacking. In this article, we discuss major methodological issues that have impeded progress in this direction, and propose a systematic research strategy for integrating neurophysiological measures into psychological assessment protocols. The strategy we propose is an iterative psychoneurometric approach that provides a means to establish multimethod (MM) measurement models for core biobehavioral traits that influence functioning across diverse areas of life. We provide a detailed illustration of a MM model for one such trait, inhibitory control (inhibition-disinhibition), and highlight work being done to develop counterpart models for other biobehavioral traits (i.e., threat sensitivity, reward sensitivity, affiliative capacity). We discuss how these measurement models can be refined and extended through use of already existing data sets, and outline steps that can be taken to establish norms for MM assessments and optimize the feasibility of their use in everyday practice. We believe this model-oriented strategy can provide a viable pathway toward effective use of neurophysiological measures in routine clinical assessments. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1512-1529
Number of pages18
JournalPsychological assessment
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work on this article was supported by grant W911NF-14-1-0018 from the U.S. Army, and grants R01 DA036216, R37 DA005147, and T320A037183 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Department of Veterans Affairs, or U.S. Recruiting Command.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.


  • Biobehavioral
  • Disinhibition
  • Multimethod
  • Neurophysiology
  • Psychoneurometric

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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