Activity patterns of the brain are as unique as fingerprints, new study finds

Glowing brain drawing with light particles around
Written by Leonescu Claudia

It’s a beautiful thing how each and every human being is different from one another. Even identical twins have differences and that’s the great fact of our nature, there is no other you anywhere else in the world. This dissimilarities are not just limited to what our eyes can see, but they go much deeper at the extent of our brains.

A new research has discovered that the pattern of our brain activity is diverse enough from person to person that it might actually be used to identify individuals, similar like they do with fingerprints.

Paralleling brain scans of 126 volunteers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers measured brain activity while the participants were either resting or doing various tasks, such as trying to hold objects in their minds, paying attention to a story, or doing math problems. Researchers were then able to successfully match the resting state brain scan to scans of the same individual even if they were taken on a another day or during the specific task.

They managed to do so, by creating a “map” of neural activity, dividing the brain into 268 separate regions. They then observed which regions showed synchronized activity while the volunteers were conducting each task, and built up a unique picture of connectivity of each participant’s brain. Their amazing findings showed that this map acts exactly like a fingerprint and it reacts differently for each person. The scientists managed to identify each of the persons based on their resting brain with 98% accuracy, and from their active brain scans with a somewhat poorer but still remarkable 80-90% accuracy.

Wait, there’s more. Their research did not concluded just this. While looking at the brain activity between the prefrontal (the front part of the brain) and parietal (the middle region of the brain) lobes, they found that those with the most solid activity between these regions scored more highly on intelligence tests.

Despite this, researchers highlighted that these brain scans should not be used to replace the more traditional paper-based intelligence tests. “None of us would recommend a brain scan over an IQ test,” Emily Finn, who coauthored the study published in Nature Neuroscience, told BBC News. “This is just proof-of-concept that these connectivity profiles are relevant to this very sophisticated cognitive behavior.”

Why is this such an awesome discovery? Well first off there’s one more thing we learned about our human nature, secondly it can revolutionize how doctors treat mental illness patients. Better and more effective therapies using more specific medications will improve their health or alleviate the symptoms, unlike the today’s methods which basically is a try and see if it works kind of approach.

About the author

Leonescu Claudia

Initially when I turned to writing it was a decision made on some pretty shallow grounds, first off it was Carrie Bradshaw building a fire under my writing juices. Spicing that up with some reading, somewhere in my 2nd year of collage I was already fascinated. Margaret Laurence once said ”When I say work I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.” and I find that painfully true.
If it's something you're drawn to, you reach for it in any of its forms, either it's in a newspaper, on a blog, maybe a book or a novel or you just go full-freelancing, you reach for it:)

Leave a Comment