A study at the University of Zurich has shown that similar to the case with fingerprints, every individual has a unique brain anatomy. According to the researchers, the uniqueness is attributed to a combination of genetic factors, individual experiences and life circumstances.
Let’s say you’re a professional guitarist. You will have particular characteristics in the regions of your brain which you use the most for playing the guitar. However, if you happen to keep your hand still for two weeks, the anatomy of your brain will change. That is – the thickness of the brain’s cortex in the areas responsible for controlling the unused hand will get smaller.
“We suspected that those experiences having an effect on the brain interact with the genetic make-up so that over the course of years every person develops a completely individual brain anatomy,” explains Lutz Jäncke, UZH professor of neuropsychology in a news release.
For the study, the team accessed over 450 brain anatomical features of nearly 200 healthy adults using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Upon evaluating volume of the brain, cortex’s thickness and volumes of grey and white matter, they found a unique combination of specific brain anatomical characteristics in each of the individuals.
“With our study we were able to confirm that the structure of people’s brains is very individual,” says Lutz Jäncke. “The combination of genetic and non-genetic influences clearly affects not only the functioning of the brain, but also its anatomy.”
Replacing fingerprint sensors with MRI scans in the coming years is highly improbable, however. MRIs don’t come cheap and they are time-consuming as compared to taking fingerprints.
“Just 30 years ago we thought that the human brain had few or no individual characteristics. Personal identification through brain anatomical characteristics was unimaginable,” Jäncke says.
The study entitled “Identification of individual subjects on the basis of their brain anatomical features” has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Source: University of Zurich