Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mature Enough

Current Issue

There is new brain research using magnetic resonance imaging that can predict a person's maturity.  The possible uses?  Well, if you could identify an immature portion of the brain, you could use techniques that help that part of the brain mature.  Ultimately, the research could provide imaging useful to treating autism and other brain disorders at a young age.  So far, the research begins at age seven but is continuing.  You can read the whole article in the current issue of Science magazine, however, it is a bit dense:  

Group functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) studies have documented reliable changes in human functional brain maturity over development. Here we show that support vector machine-based multivariate pattern analysis extracts sufficient information from fcMRI data to make accurate predictions about individuals’ brain maturity across development. The use of only 5 minutes of resting-state fcMRI data from 238 scans of typically developing volunteers (ages 7 to 30 years) allowed prediction of individual brain maturity as a functional connectivity maturation index. The resultant functional maturation curve accounted for 55% of the sample variance and followed a nonlinear asymptotic growth curve shape. The greatest relative contribution to predicting individual brain maturity was made by the weakening of short-range functional connections between the adult brain’s major functional networks (September 10, 2010).  Yikes (that is my comment). 

This link provides the Businessweek analysis of the information (a little more my speed):  The down side?  Do you really want to know the maturity level of your partner?  Yourself?  I find the neuroscience that is emerging amazing.  But, as Maria Montessori's approach  has proven, an astute observer is worth over one hundred years of brain imaging.

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