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The human brain was as unique as a fingerprint

 

To this conclusion came the specialists of the University of Zurich after a two-year study .

Pictures (views from the front, from the side and from above) of the twin brain (in the image on the left and right): furrows and ridges are different for each person / Image: Lutz Janke, UZH

A large-scale two-year study, conducted by specialists from the University of Zurich, revealed that the human brain of each person is unique – just like a fingerprint. This uniqueness is due to a combination of genetic factors and individual life experience.

For example, professional musicians, golfers or chess players regularly use the same parts of the brain for their activities, which affects their anatomical development. In this case, more short-term activities or events in the life of a person can also leave their mark: if, for example, the right hand remains stationary for two weeks, the thickness of the cerebral cortex in the regions responsible for controlling the immobilized arm decreases.

Thanks to our research, we were able to confirm that the structure of the human brain is very individual. The combination of genetic and non-genetic effects clearly affects not only the functioning of the brain, but also its anatomy.

Lutz Janke
Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Zurich

The study involved 191 people who during the observation period were made three magnetic resonance tomograms. During its carrying out, more than 450 anatomical features of the brain were evaluated, including very general: the total brain volume, the thickness of the cortex, the volume of gray and white matter. For each of the 191 participants, specialists were able to determine an individual combination of specific anatomical characteristics of the brain, so that the accuracy of identification, even for very general anatomical characteristics of the brain, was more than 90 percent.

The results of the study, according to Professor Janke, reflect the great progress in the field of neurology in recent years.

Just 30 years ago, we thought that the human brain has a small number of individual characteristics or does not have them at all. The possibility of personal identification [of a particular person] through the anatomical characteristics of the brain was unimaginable.

Lutz Janke
Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Zurich

Nevertheless, the authors of the study believe that the replacement of fingerprint sensors on MRI in the future is unlikely. Experts explain that MRI is too expensive and takes a lot of time compared to a proven and simple method of fingerprinting.

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