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There is a significant need to develop objective measures for identifying children under the age of 8 who have anxiety and depression. If left untreated, early internalizing symptoms can lead to adolescent and adult internalizing disorders as well as comorbidity which can yield significant health problems later in life including increased risk for suicide. To this end, we propose the use of an instrumented fear induction task for identifying children with internalizing disorders, and demonstrate its efficacy in a sample of 63 children between the ages of 3 and 7. In so doing, we extract objective measures that capture the full six degree-of-freedom movement of a child using data from a belt-worn inertial measurement unit (IMU) and relate them to behavioral fear codes, parent-reported child symptoms and clinician-rated child internalizing diagnoses. We find that IMU motion data, but not behavioral codes, are associated with parent-reported child symptoms and clinician-reported child internalizing diagnosis in this sample. These results demonstrate that IMU motion data are sensitive to behaviors indicative of child psychopathology. Moreover, the proposed IMU-based approach has increased feasibility of collection and processing compared to behavioral codes, and therefore should be explored further in future studies.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


: © 2018 McGinnis et al.