Researchers Develop a Brain Fingerprint at the University of Pittsburgh

A team, led by Carnegie Mellon used diffusion MRI to map the brain’s structural connections, cementing what scientists have always thought to be true: that the structural connections in the brain are unique to each individual, thereby offering a unique “fingerprint.”

Their recently published results also show that the brain’s distinctiveness changes over time, which could help researcher determine how factors such as the environment, disease and experience impact the brain.

This non-invasive MRI approach captures the brain’s connections at a much closer level than ever before.  For instance, past approaches outline one estimate of the integrity of a single structural connection, or a white matter fiber.  This new technique measures the integrity along each segment of the brain’s biological fibers, thereby making it more sensitive to unique patterns.

Dr. Fang-Cheng Yeh, PhD, the study’s first author, outlines why this is so important: “We can apply this new method to existing data and reveal new information that is already sitting there unexplored.  The higher specificity allows us to reliably study how genetic and environmental factors shape the human brain over time, thereby opening a gate to understand how the human brain functions or dysfunctions.” Dr. Yeh is also an assistant professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh.

To read more about these exciting new study, and exactly how these measurements are made, click here.