Use of Computer Vision Tools to Identify Behavioral Markers of Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Pilot Study

Gail A Bernstein, Tasoulla Hadjiyanni, Kathryn R Cullen, Julia W Robinson, Elizabeth C. Harris, Austin D. Young, Joshua Fasching, Nicholas Walczak, Susanne S Lee, Vassilios Morellas, Nikolaos P Papanikolopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Objectives: The clinical presentation of pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is heterogeneous, which is a stumbling block to understanding pathophysiology and to developing new treatments. A major shift in psychiatry, embodied in the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative of National Institute of Mental Health, recognizes the pitfalls of categorizing mental illnesses using diagnostic criteria. Instead, RDoC encourages researchers to use a dimensional approach, focusing on narrower domains of psychopathology to characterize brain-behavior relationships. Our aim in this multidisciplinary pilot study was to use computer vision tools to record OCD behaviors and to cross-validate these behavioral markers with standard clinical measures. Methods: Eighteen youths with OCD and 21 healthy controls completed tasks in an innovation laboratory (free arrangement of objects, hand washing, arrangement of objects on contrasting carpets). Tasks were video-recorded. Videos were coded by blind raters for OCD-related behaviors. Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (CY-BOCS) and other scales were administered. We compared video-recorded measures of behavior in OCD versus healthy controls and correlated video measures and clinical measures of OCD. Results: Behavioral measures on the videos were significantly correlated with specific CY-BOCS dimension scores. During the free arrangement task, more time spent ordering objects and more moves of objects were both significantly associated with higher CY-BOCS ordering/repeating dimension scores. Longer duration of hand washing was significantly correlated with higher scores on CY-BOCS ordering/repeating and forbidden thoughts dimensions. During arrangement of objects on contrasting carpets, more moves and more adjustment of objects were significantly associated with higher CY-BOCS ordering/repeating dimension scores. Conclusion: Preliminary data suggest that measurement of behavior using video recording is a valid approach for quantifying OCD psychopathology. This methodology could serve as a new tool for investigating OCD using an RDoC approach. This objective, novel behavioral measurement technique may benefit both researchers and clinicians in assessing pediatric OCD and in identifying new behavioral markers of OCD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-147
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2017



  • Behavioral markers
  • Computer vision tools
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • RDoC
  • Research Domain Criteria

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