Annual Research Review: Discovery science strategies in studies of the pathophysiology of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders - Promises and limitations

Yihong Zhao, F. Xavier Castellanos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Psychiatric science remains descriptive, with a categorical nosology intended to enhance interobserver reliability. Increased awareness of the mismatch between categorical classifications and the complexity of biological systems drives the search for novel frameworks including discovery science in Big Data. In this review, we provide an overview of incipient approaches, primarily focused on classically categorical diagnoses such as schizophrenia (SZ), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but also reference convincing, if focal, advances in cancer biology, to describe the challenges of Big Data and discovery science, and outline approaches being formulated to overcome existing obstacles. Findings A paradigm shift from categorical diagnoses to a domain/structure-based nosology and from linear causal chains to complex causal network models of brain-behavior relationship is ongoing. This (r)evolution involves appreciating the complexity, dimensionality, and heterogeneity of neuropsychiatric data collected from multiple sources ('broad' data) along with data obtained at multiple levels of analysis, ranging from genes to molecules, cells, circuits, and behaviors ('deep' data). Both of these types of Big Data landscapes require the use and development of robust and powerful informatics and statistical approaches. Thus, we describe Big Data analysis pipelines and the promise and potential limitations in using Big Data approaches to study psychiatric disorders. Conclusions We highlight key resources available for psychopathological studies and call for the application and development of Big Data approaches to dissect the causes and mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disorders and identify corresponding biomarkers for early diagnosis. Psychiatric science remains descriptive, with a categorical nosology intended to enhance interobserver reliability. Increased awareness of the mismatch between categorical classifications and the complexity of biological systems drives the search for novel frameworks including discovery science in Big Data. In this review (which includes a useful glossary of Big Data, discovery science, and related molecular genetics terminology), we provide an overview of incipient approaches, primarily focused on classically categorical diagnoses such as schizophrenia (SZ), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We discuss the promise and limitations of Big Data approaches that aim to increase the power of mining neuropsychiatric data, and call particularly for the application and development of Big Data approaches that dissect the causes and mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disorders and identify corresponding biomarkers for early diagnosis. Read the Commentary on this article at doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12538

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-439
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Volume57
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Keywords

  • Big Data
  • Neuropsychiatric disorders
  • brain image
  • classification
  • endophenotype
  • genetics
  • inference
  • psychopathology

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