Identification of children at risk of schizophrenia via deep learning and EEG responses

David Ahmedt Aristizabal, Tharindu Fernando, Simon Denman, Jonathan Robinson, Sridha Sridharan, Patrick J. Johnston, Kristin R. Laurens, Clinton Fookes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The prospective identification of children likely to develop schizophrenia is a vital tool to support early interventions that can mitigate the risk of progression to clinical psychosis. Electroencephalographic (EEG) patterns from brain activity and deep learning techniques are valuable resources in achieving this identification. We propose automated techniques that can process raw EEG waveforms to identify children who may have an increased risk of schizophrenia compared to typically developing children. We also analyse abnormal features that remain during developmental follow-up over a period of ~4 years in children with a vulnerability to schizophrenia initially assessed when aged 9 to 12 years. EEG data from participants were captured during the recording of a passive auditory oddball paradigm. We undertake a holistic study to identify brain abnormalities, first by exploring traditional machine learning algorithms using classification methods applied to hand-engineered features (event-related potential components). Then, we compare the performance of these methods with end-to-end deep learning techniques applied to raw data. We demonstrate via average cross-validation performance measures that recurrent deep convolutional neural networks can outperform traditional machine learning methods for sequence modeling. We illustrate the intuitive salient information of the model with the location of the most relevant attributes of a post-stimulus window. This baseline identification system in the area of mental illness supports the evidence of developmental and disease effects in a pre-prodromal phase of psychosis. These results reinforce the benefits of deep learning to support psychiatric classification and neuroscientific research more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Abnormal brain activity
  • Brain modeling
  • Convolutional neural networks
  • Early stages of psychosis
  • Electroencephalography
  • Feature extraction
  • Machine learning
  • Pediatrics
  • Recurrent neural networks
  • Standards

Cite this