Neural networks and psychiatry: Candidate applications in clinical decision making

Tony Florio*, Stewart Einfeld, Florence Levy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Neural networks comprise a fundamentally new type of computer system inspired by the functioning of neurons in the brain. Such networks are good at solving problems that involve pattern recognition and categorisation. An important difference between a neural network and a traditional computer system is that in developing an application, a neural network is not programmed; instead, it is trained to solve a particular type of problem. This ability to learn to solve a problem makes neural networks adaptable to solving a wide variety of problems, some of which have proved intractable using a traditional computing approach. Neural networks are particularly suited to tasks involving the categorisation of patterns of information, such as is required in diagnosis and clinical decision making. In the last three years reports of applications involving neural networks have begun to appear in the medical literature, and these are described in this paper. However, a comprehensive search of the literature has shown that there have not as yet been reports of any applications in psychiatry. This paper discusses the nature of clinical decision making, outlines the sorts of problems in psychiatry which neural networks applications might be developed to address, and gives examples of candidate applications in clinical decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-666
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


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