A scientist at EPFL (the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology) has discovered that it is possible to detect declining cognitive function by using the fingerprints of an individual’s brain. Brain fingerprints refer to the neural connections’ map as detected by brain imaging techniques.
The scientist stumbled upon this discovery after noticing that the brain fingerprints in individuals suffering from cognitive decline are more difficult to detect compared to how easily the brain fingerprints of healthy subjects can be detected.
Just as is the case with fingers, the brain of each individual has a unique pattern that is embedded within it, so no two individuals can have an identical brain fingerprint. As brain imaging has improved, the scientific community has noticed that the different activities that take place within brains cause networks of neural activity to form, and these imprinted networks differ from one person to another.
Dr. Enrico Amico, a scientist at the neuroprosthetics center at EPFL, worked with researchers at Naples-based Parthenope University and the University of Aix-Marseilles. This team studied two groups of people. One group was healthy and didn’t have any cognitive impairment while the second group was composed of individuals who had mild forms of cognitive decline that hadn’t reached the level of being clinically described as dementia.
When the scientists took a close look at the brain fingerprints of these two groups, it was found that the fingerprints of the healthy individuals were easy to identify while it was difficult to identify those of the people who displayed symptoms of cognitive decline. Amico explains that the researchers recorded the electromagnetic brain activity for each individual by taking measurements of the magnetic fields created as neurons fired. This provided a snapshot for each participant’s brain activity.
In addition to having brain fingerprints that were difficult to identify, study participants who had mild cognitive decline also had lower MMSE scores, an assessment often used to diagnose patients who are suspected to be suffering from dementia.
The team also found that the difficulty of identifying brain maps wasn’t restricted to one or a few regions of the brain. The problem was evident in all regions of the brain, indicating that as cognitive function declines, so does other brain activity.
The researchers hope that their findings will trigger interest into further inquiry of the potential of brain fingerprints as a tool to detect the onset of dementia before a person exhibits symptoms. In this way, early intervention could delay the progression of the disease.
If the use of brain fingerprints becomes available as an approved diagnostic tool, it will be an addition to other novel neuro-diagnostic tools such as the disposable EEG headsets manufactured by Brain Scientific Inc. (OTCQB: BRSF), which have been introduced to transform the way physicians and other professionals conduct neurology imaging tests.
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