Research Post

Individualized identification of first-episode bipolar disorder using machine learning and cognitive tests


Identifying cognitive dysfunction in the early stages of Bipolar Disorder (BD) can allow for early intervention. Previous studies have shown a strong correlation between cognitive dysfunction and number of manic episodes. The objective of this study was to apply machine learning (ML) techniques on a battery of cognitive tests to identify first-episode BD patients (FE-BD). Two cohorts of participants were used for this study. Cohort #1 included 74 chronic BD patients (CHR-BD) and 53 healthy controls (HC), while the Cohort #2 included 37 FE-BD and 18 age- and sex-matched HC. Cognitive functioning was assessed using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB). The tests examined domains of visual processing, spatial memory, attention and executive function. We trained an ML model to distinguish between chronic BD patients (CHR-BD) and HC at the individual level. We used linear Support Vector Machines (SVM) and were able to identify individual CHR-BD patients at 77% accuracy. We then applied the model to Cohort #2 (FE-BD patients) and achieved an accuracy of 76% (AUC = 0.77). These results reveal that cognitive impairments may appear in early stages of BD and persist into later stages. This suggests that the same deficits may exist for both CHR-BD and FE-BD. These cognitive deficits may serve as markers for early BD. Our study provides a tool that these early markers can be used for detection of BD.

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