Humans exhibit a wide-range of complex behaviors, making the early detection of subtle signs of mental illness an extremely challenging and resource-intensive problem. In this talk, I’ll discuss our recent efforts to implement longitudinal, single-case experimental designs in individuals with significant mental illness, both to understand the biological and environmental factors that influence illness fluctuations at the level of individuals, and to explore how one might implement semi-autonomous, individually-tailored illness awareness systems for mental health. I’ll spend the majority of the talk presenting preliminary observations from our year-long investigation of seven individuals with diagnoses of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder, who each agreed to undergo ‘deep’ longitudinal characterization, through repeated clinical assessments, brain MRIs, and nearly continuous quantitative behavioral assessment through the sensors on and interactions with their own cellphone (and a wrist-worn device we provided). I’ll relate each participant’s clinical trajectory to their objective behavioral data over time, highlighting examples where deviations from routine are apparent in dynamic patterns of sensor data, and how these changes were (or weren’t) accompanied by changes in other variables, including subjective reports and measures of structural or functional brain anatomy. Finally, I’ll describe how we’re further refining the approach to be more autonomous and individually customized, so that it can be deployed more effectively at scale in individuals experiencing a wide range of neurobehavioral issues, paving the way for intervention systems designed to target individually-relevant brain circuits and real-world, functional outcomes.

Justin Baker
Assistant Psychiatrist,
Scientific Director, Institute for Technology in Psychiatry,
Director of Functional Neuroimaging and Bioinformatics, Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Research Program,
McLean Hospital
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry,
Harvard Medical School



Justin Baker – Into the Deep: Toward Closed-Loop Neurobehavioral Phenotyping and Illness Detection in Psychotic Illness

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