Classification of first-episode psychosis in a large cohort of patients using support vector machine and multiple kernel learning techniques

Letizia Squarcina, Umberto Castellani, Marcella Bellani, Cinzia Perlini, Antonio Lasalvia, Nicola Dusi, Chiara Bonetto, Doriana Cristofalo, Sarah Tosato, Gianluca Rambaldelli, Franco Alessandrini, Giada Zoccatelli, Roberto Pozzi-Mucelli, Dario Lamonaca, Enrico Ceccato, Francesca Pileggi, Fausto Mazzi, Paolo Santonastaso, Mirella Ruggeri, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


First episode psychosis (FEP) patients are of particular interest for neuroimaging investigations because of the absence of confounding effects due to medications and chronicity. Nonetheless, imaging data are prone to heterogeneity because for example of age, gender or parameter setting differences. With this work, we wanted to take into account possible nuisance effects of age and gender differences across dataset, not correcting the data as a pre-processing step, but including the effect of nuisance covariates in the classification phase. To this aim, we developed a method which, based on multiple kernel learning (MKL), exploits the effect of these confounding variables with a subject-depending kernel weighting procedure. We applied this method to a dataset of cortical thickness obtained from structural magnetic resonance images (MRI) of 127 FEP patients and 127 healthy controls, who underwent either a 3. Tesla (T) or a 1.5. T MRI acquisition. We obtained good accuracies, notably better than those obtained with standard SVM or MKL methods, up to more than 80% for frontal and temporal areas. To our best knowledge, this is the largest classification study in FEP population, showing that fronto-temporal cortical thickness can be used as a potential marker to classify patients with psychosis.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Aug 14 2015


  • Affective psychosis
  • Cortical thickness
  • Frontal
  • MRI
  • Schizophrenia
  • Temporal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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