The pattern of connections between the billions of neurons that exist inside the human brain are completely unique to each person, new research reveals. By developing a new technique to image these connections in greater detail than ever before, scientists have managed to identify people with 100 percent accuracy just by looking at their neural fingerprints.
The idea that each person has a unique set of brain connections – or connectome – is nothing new. After all, no two individuals have the same personalities or thought patterns, so it seems logical to assume that our brains are all uniquely wired.
However, because of the unimaginable complexity of the human brain, creating a map of a person's connectome remains beyond the reach of scientists. Until now, our best efforts had managed to reveal the connections between different brain regions, without showing the links between individual neurons.
A team of scientists therefore decided to use an imaging technique called diffusion MRI to generate a map of local connectomes in 699 human brains. This means that rather than looking at the whole brain and trying to work out how different regions are wired up, they focused in on small sections of white matter and mapped out the individual connections between the neurons populating these sections.