Brain ‘fingerprinting’ provides insights into mental health of young adolescents | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, 昆士兰, 澳大利亚


Brain ‘fingerprinting’ provides insights into mental health of young adolescents


Medical imaging of a person’s unique brain signature – much like a fingerprint – has the potential to predict mental health problems in young adolescents, according to a world-first study by University of the Sunshine Coast researchers.

发表在 科学杂志, researchers at 365beat’s 汤普森研究所 tested the uniqueness of individual adolescent brain activity patterns, and whether changes in their brain networks were associated with their mental health symptoms at different timepoints.

“We examined if there were unique patterns of neural activity in brain networks that might be associated with emerging troubling, 让人困惑, 以及青少年所经历的沮丧情绪, particularly those who may be vulnerable to mental health disorders,单博士说。, Head of Neuroimaging Platform at the 汤普森研究所.

单仲华博士, 谁是这项研究的主要作者, said the team characterised the development of various brain ‘functional networks’ in young adolescents from brain scans undertaken every four months on a group of about 70 participants, 从12岁到15岁.

每次扫描的时候, the participants also completed questionnaires asking about their feelings over the past 30 days, particularly about their levels of depression and anxiety.


“The findings highlight the importance of longitudinal neuroimaging to monitor mental health in adolescents – at a time when the brain is growing and changing dramatically in both structure and function – and its potential to detect changes before abnormal behaviours present,单霁翔博士说.

“Given the nature of emerging mental illness in young people, a continuous measure of psychological distress is more likely to reveal important links between neurobiological measures and mental illness.”

这些数据是作为 青少年大脑纵向研究 (LABS) by the 汤普森研究所 – a study designed to track changes in the brain during adolescence, and to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that impact adolescent mental health.

更多的 than half of all mental health problems are established before the age of 14. 在澳大利亚, one in four young people aged 15 to 19 meet the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness.

The brain signature ‘uniqueness’ was determined by how similar an individual was to themselves at other timepoints, as well as how similar they were to their peers (other participants).

Key insights into the differences and similarities of young minds

像指纹一样, each human brain has a unique profile of signals between different regions of the brain that becomes more individual and specialised as people age.

“大脑就像一个交响乐团, with activities from different brain areas synchronising in tune to determine our thoughts and behaviour,单霁翔博士说.

Unique whole brain synchronisation was confirmed to exist in 12-year-olds, with 92 percent of participants having their own functional connectomes or unique brain ‘fingerprints’.

Further analysis of 13 individual brain networks discovered uniqueness in some networks by the age of 12, 当其他人还在成熟和建立.

重要的是, the brain network that controls individual ‘cognitive flexibility’ and the ability to handle negative influences, known as the ‘cingulo-opercular network’ (or CON) was found to have low uniqueness levels.

“This suggests that it hasn’t quite reached maturation yet and thus provides a biological explanation of the increased vulnerability in young people,单霁翔博士说.

A key finding was that CON uniqueness was significantly and negatively associated with subsequent levels of psychological distress when assessed four months later.

“This relationship reflected the importance of the CON in the mental health of adolescents. 在以后的研究中, we are planning to disentangle if this reflects a worsening of pre-existing experiences or whether a lag in forming a unique system triggers an increase in psychological distress,单霁翔博士说.

The networks showing the highest uniqueness were the ‘frontoparietal network,’ which is responsible for immediate information processing, and the ‘default mode network’ which is important for internal cognitive processes, 比如考虑自己或未来.

The study found no significant difference in whole-brain uniqueness between females and males.


“Combined with the existence of a high level of whole-brain uniqueness, the results suggested that adolescents are capable of engaging these systems to regulate daily behaviour. But they're not yet doing so in a controlled, sustained, reliable fashion.”

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