Background: Unsupervised fuzzy clustering (UFC) analysis is a mathematical technique that groups together objects in the multidimensional feature space according to a specified similarity measurement, thereby yielding clusters of similar data points that can be represented by a set of prototypes or centroids. Methods: Since clinical studies of mental disorders distinguish between affected and unaffected individuals, we designed an inclusion/exclusion criteria (cutoff behavioral criteria [CBC]) approach for animal behavioral studies. The effect of classifying the study population into clearly affected versus clearly unaffected individuals according to behaviors on two behavioral paradigms was statistically significant. Results: Here the raw data from previous studies were subjected to UFC algorithms as a means of objectively testing the validity of the concept of the CBC for our experimental model. The first UFC algorithm yielded two clearly discrete clusters, found to consist almost exclusively of the exposed animals in the one and unexposed animals in the other. The second algorithm yielded three clusters corresponding to animals designated as clearly affected, partially affected, and clearly unaffected. The algorithm for physiological data in addition to behavioral data failed to elicit discrete clusters. Conclusions: The UFC analysis yielded data that support the conceptual contention of the CBC and lends additional validity to our previous behavioral studies.
- Animal model
- Behavioral criteria
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Unsupervised fuzzy clustering