The problem of the automatic determination of the first and second ventilatory thresholds (VT1 and VT2) from cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) still leads to controversy. The reliability of the gold standard methodology (i.e. expert visual inspection) feeds into the debate and several authors call for more objective automatic methods to be used in the clinical practice. In this study, we present a framework based on a collaborative approach, where a web-application was used to crowd-source a large number (1245) of CPET data of individuals with different aerobic fitness. The resulting database was used to train and test a machine learning (i.e. a convolutional neural network) algorithm. This automatic classifier is currently implemented in another web-application and was used to detect the ventilatory thresholds in CPET. A total of 206 CPET were used to evaluate the accuracy of the estimations against the expert opinions. The neural network was able to detect the ventilatory thresholds with an average mean absolute error of 178 (198) mlO2/min (11.1%, r=0.97) and 144 (149) mlO2/min (6.1%, r=0.99), for VT1 and VT2 respectively. The performance of the neural network in detecting VT1 deteriorated in case of individuals with poor aerobic fitness. Our results suggest the potential for a collective intelligence system to outperform isolated experts in ventilatory thresholds detection. However, the inclusion of a larger number of VT1 examples certified by a community of experts will be likely needed before the abilities of this collective intelligence can be translated into the clinical use of CPET.
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