Unique Brain 'Fingerprint' Offers New Method of Identification

Image of brain fingerprint from Yale study
An image of the brain used by neurologists at Yale University, who have managed to create unique 'brain fingerprints' by analyzing activity a 268 locations in the brain. Emily Finn

Neurologists at Yale University have discovered that it is possible to identify an individual's identity by mapping their brain activity.

Unlike a fingerprint, which is based on the physical structure of a finger or thumb, a brain profile is based on brain activity. The two, however, are similarly unique according to new research published in the journal Nature Neuroscience on Tuesday.

According to BBC News, the neurologists were able to single out an individual's brain pattern from a sample of 126 different functional MRI (fMRI) scans. The scans enabled the researchs to build individual connectivity profiles for each test subject. The study also show that even when a person is resting, his or her connectivity profile still provides uniquely identifiable patterns. The 126 test subjects were scanned during six sessions across two days. In four of the sessions, they were asked to perform various cognitive tasks, while they rested in the remaining two.

"What was most exciting to me was that these profiles are so stable and reliable, in the same person, no matter if it's today or tomorrow and no matter what your brain is doing when we're scanning you," Emily Finn told the BBC. Finn is a Ph.D. student in neuroscience at Yale, and wrote the paper alongside colleague Dr. Xilin Shen.

According to Yale University's YaleNews site, the research team hope that in the future brain connectivity profiles will allow for improved prediction and treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases.