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Translating Research Findings into Clinical Practice: A Systematic and Critical Review of Neuroimaging-based Clinical Tools for Brain Disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Accepted/In press25 Mar 2020

King's Authors


A pivotal aim of psychiatric and neurological research is to promote the translation of the findings into clinical practice to improve diagnostic and prognostic assessment of individual patients. Structural neuroimaging holds much promise, with neuroanatomical measures accounting for up to 40% of the variance in clinical outcome. Building on these findings, a number of imaging-based clinical tools have been developed to make diagnostic and prognostic inferences about individual patients from their structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans. This systematic review describes and compares the technical characteristics of the available tools, with the aim to assess their translational potential into real-world clinical settings. The results reveal that a total of 8 tools. All of these were specifically developed for neurological disorders, and as such are not suitable for application to psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, most of the tools were trained and validated in a single dataset, which can result in poor generalizability, or using a small number of individuals which can cause overoptimistic results. In addition, all of the tools rely on two strategies to detect brain abnormalities in single individuals, one based on univariate comparison, and the other based on multivariate machine learning algorithms. We discuss current barriers to the adoption of these tools in clinical practice and propose a checklist of pivotal characteristics that should be included in an “ideal” neuroimaging-based clinical tool for brain disorders.

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