Researchers Develop Way To "Fingerprint" the Brain

Using a new imaging technique, researchers have developed a way to “fingerprint” the human brain, confirming what scientists have always thought to be true: the structural connections in the brain are unique to each individual person. The Carnegie Mellon University-led team used diffusion MRI to map the brain’s structural connections and found that each person’s connections are so unique that they could identify a person based on this brain “fingerprint” with nearly perfect accuracy. Published in PLOS Computational Biology, the results also show that the brain’s distinctiveness changes over time, which could help researchers determine how factors such as disease, the environment and different experiences impact the brain. The new, non-invasive diffusion MRI approach captures the brain’s connections at a much closer level than ever before. For example, conventional approaches obtain a single estimate of the integrity of a single structural connection, or a white matter fiber. The new technique measures the integrity along each segment of the brain’s biological wires, making it much more sensitive to unique patterns.”