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Findings say sophisticated brain scans can be used to perfectly predict age

Findings reported in Current Biology, a Cell Press Publication states that sophisticated brain scans can be used to accurately predict age. Timothy Bro...

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|Aug 17|magazine4 min read

Findings reported in Current Biology, a Cell Press Publication states that sophisticated brain scans can be used to accurately predict age.

Timothy Brown of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine said, “We have uncovered a developmental clock of sorts within the brain-a biological signature of maturation that captures age differences quite well, regardless of other kinds of differences that exist across individuals.”

Along with UCSD’s Anders Dale and Terry Jernigan and researchers from nine other universities, Brown used structural magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of 885 people falling in the age-group of 3 to 20.

Those brain scans were utilized to identify 231 biomarkers of brain anatomy that, when combined, could assess an individual’s age with more than 92% accuracy.

Others had looked at some of the brain biomarkers in the past and the key was finding a way to combine them to capture the multidimensional nature of brain anatomy and the characteristic patterns of developmental change with age. Mr. Brown plans to further explore the new approach and its potential for use in the clinic.

Timothy Brown said, “The fact that we found a collection of brain measures that so accurately capture a person’s chronological age means that brain development, or at least certain anatomical aspects of it, is more tightly controlled than we knew previously.” "The regularity in this maturity metric among typically developing children suggests that it might be sensitive to detecting abnormality as well," he added.

The findings also state that is not yet clear how these anatomical changes in the brain will relate to maturity in terms of human behavior, which everyone is aware is not reflected by the chronological age.