Representing Mental Functioning: Ontologies for Mental Health and Disease

In Towards an Ontology of Mental Functioning (ICBO Workshop), Proceeedings of the Third International Conference on Biomedical Ontology (2012)
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Mental and behavioral disorders represent a significant portion of the public health burden in all countries. The human cost of these disorders is immense, yet treatment options for sufferers are currently limited, with many patients failing to respond sufficiently to available interventions and drugs. High quality ontologies facilitate data aggregation and comparison across different disciplines, and may therefore speed up the translation of primary research into novel therapeutics. Realism-based ontologies describe entities in reality and the relationships between them in such a way that – once formulated in a suitable formal language – the ontologies can be used for sophisticated automated reasoning applications. Reference ontologies can be applied across different contexts in which different, and often mutually incompatible, domain-specific vocabularies have traditionally been used. In this contribution we describe the Mental Functioning Ontology (MF) and Mental Disease Ontology (MD), two realism-based ontologies currently under development for the description of humanmental functioning and disease. We describe the structure and upper levels of the ontologies and preliminary application scenarios, and identify some open questions.

Author Profiles

Kevin Mulligan
University of Geneva
Barry Smith
State University of New York, Buffalo


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