Supervised and unsupervised machine learning for automated scoring of sleep–wake and cataplexy in a mouse model of narcolepsy

Ioannis Exarchos, Anna A. Rogers, Lauren M. Aiani, Robert E. Gross, Gari D. Clifford, Nigel P. Pedersen, Jon T. Willie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Despite commercial availability of software to facilitate sleep–wake scoring of electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) in animals, automated scoring of rodent models of abnormal sleep, such as narcolepsy with cataplexy, has remained elusive. We optimize two machine-learning approaches, supervised and unsupervised, for automated scoring of behavioral states in orexin/ ataxin-3 transgenic mice, a validated model of narcolepsy type 1, and additionally test them on wild-type mice. The supervised learning approach uses previously labeled data to facilitate training of a classifier for sleep states, whereas the unsupervised approach aims to discover latent structure and similarities in unlabeled data from which sleep stages are inferred. For the supervised approach, we employ a deep convolutional neural network architecture that is trained on expert-labeled segments of wake, non-REM sleep, and REM sleep in EEG/EMG time series data. The resulting trained classifier is then used to infer on the labels of previously unseen data. For the unsupervised approach, we leverage data dimensionality reduction and clustering techniques. Both approaches successfully score EEG/EMG data, achieving mean accuracies of 95% and 91%, respectively, in narcoleptic mice, and accuracies of 93% and 89%, respectively, in wild-type mice. Notably, the supervised approach generalized well on previously unseen data from the same animals on which it was trained but exhibited lower performance on animals not present in the training data due to inter-subject variability. Cataplexy is scored with a sensitivity of 85% and 57% using the supervised and unsupervised approaches, respectively, when compared to manual scoring, and the specificity exceeds 99% in both cases.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Animal models
  • EEG spectral analysis
  • Machine learning
  • Narcolepsy
  • Scoring
  • Sleep in animals


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