Identification of Veterans With PTSD Based on EEG Features Collected During Sleep

Front Psychiatry. 2020 Oct 30:11:532623. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.532623. eCollection 2020.


Background: Previously, we identified sleep-electroencephalography (EEG) spectral power and synchrony features that differed significantly at a population-average level between subjects with and without posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here, we aimed to examine the extent to which a combination of such features could objectively identify individual subjects with PTSD. Methods: We analyzed EEG data recorded from 78 combat-exposed Veteran men with (n = 31) and without (n = 47) PTSD during two consecutive nights of sleep. To obviate the need for manual assessment of sleep staging and facilitate extraction of features from the EEG data, for each subject, we computed 780 stage-independent, whole-night features from the 10 most commonly used EEG channels. We performed feature selection and trained a logistic regression model using a training set consisting of the first 47 consecutive subjects (18 with PTSD) of the study. Then, we evaluated the model on a testing set consisting of the remaining 31 subjects (13 with PTSD). Results: Feature selection yielded three uncorrelated features that were consistent across the two consecutive nights and discriminative of PTSD. One feature was from the spectral power in the delta band (2-4 Hz) and the other two were from phase synchronies in the alpha (10-12 Hz) and gamma (32-40 Hz) bands. When we combined these features into a logistic regression model to predict the subjects in the testing set, the trained model yielded areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve of at least 0.80. Importantly, the model yielded a testing-set sensitivity of 0.85 and a positive predictive value (PPV) of 0.31. Conclusions: We identified robust stage-independent, whole-night features from EEG signals and combined them into a logistic regression model to discriminate subjects with and without PTSD. On the testing set, the model yielded a high sensitivity and a PPV that was twice the prevalence rate of PTSD in the U.S. Veteran population. We conclude that, using EEG signals collected during sleep, such a model can potentially serve as a means to objectively identify U.S. Veteran men with PTSD.

Keywords: PTSD; classification; electroencephalography; sleep; sleep-stage independent; spectral power; synchrony.