Your brain may be as unique as your fin­ger­prints

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Diet -

NEW re­search sug­gests that no two brains are alike, as ge­net­ics and ex­pe­ri­ence make their mark on your mind. “With our study, we were able to con­firm that the struc­ture of peo­ple’s brains is very in­di­vid­ual,” said study au­thor Lutz Jancke, pro­fes­sor of neu­ropsy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Zurich in Switzer­land. “Just 30 years ago, we thought that the hu­man brain had few or no in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ter­is­tics,” Jancke said. “Per­sonal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion through brain anatom­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics was unimag­in­able.”

But this lat­est find­ing shows that “the com­bi­na­tion of ge­netic and non-ge­netic in­flu­ences clearly af­fects not only the func­tion­ing of the brain, but also its anatomy,” Jancke said in a univer­sity news re­lease. The study in­cluded nearly 200 healthy older peo­ple who un­der­went MRI brain scans three times over a pe­riod of two years. The re­searchers as­sessed more than 450 fea­tures of brain anatomy, in­clud­ing to­tal brain vol­ume, vol­umes of grey and white mat­ter, and thick­ness of the cor­tex.

As an ex­am­ple of how ex­pe­ri­ence seems to af­fect the brain’s anatomy, Jancke pointed to how pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians, golfers or chess play­ers had spe­cific char­ac­ter­is­tics in re­gions of the brain they rely on for their spe­cial skills. How­ever, short-term ex­pe­ri­ences also seemed to shape the brain. For ex­am­ple, if a per­son’s right arm was kept still for two weeks, there was a re­duc­tion in the thick­ness of the brain’s cor­tex in the ar­eas re­spon­si­ble for con­trol­ling that arm, the re­searchers said. “We sus­pected that those ex­pe­ri­ences hav­ing an ef­fect on the brain in­ter­act with the ge­netic makeup, so that over the course of years ev­ery per­son de­vel­ops a com­pletely in­di­vid­ual brain anatomy,” Jancke ex­plained.

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