Are Brain Waves as Unique as Fingerprints?

Posted May 13th, 2011 at 4:54 pm (UTC-4)
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When children enter adolescence their brains begin to undergo a series of rapid changes – actually a sort of neural overhaul – shedding what was needed in childhood and adding functions and abilities that are critical in adulthood.

Despite these considerable and ongoing changes, when something in the brain remains so steadily unaltered, neuroscientists take notice.

In a study co-authored by Dr. Mary Carskadon, professor of psychiatry at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of the Sleep Research Laboratory at E.P. Bradley Hospital, researchers have found that most of their teenage study subjects maintained a unique and consistent pattern of underlying brain oscillations.

This observation appears to support an idea, already observed in adults, that people produce a kind of unique brain wave “fingerprint.”

On the Science World radio program this weekend, Professor Carskadon talks more about the study and how these “fingerprints” could someday lead to a method to predict and possibly treat those who may go on to develop mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or depression. Listen to a preview of the interview here:

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Other stories we’ll cover on the Science World radio program include:

Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

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