Neuroscientists accurately predict intelligence with an fMRI scan

If fingerprints can identify individual people, imagine what a brain-print could reveal -- namely, how you think and how intelligent you are. Neuroscientists studied fMRI scans of 126 patients in the Human Connectome Project, a consortium helping to map the human brain, and found consistent connections that accurately predicted "fluid intelligence," or abstract reasoning. Their findings were published today in the journal Nature. Researchers found that the more certain regions of the brain spoke to each other, the more likely a person was to quickly process information and make inferences, Yale grad student and study co-author Emily Finn told Wired. For example, a strong connection between the frontal and parietal lobes, two areas involved in high-level functions, accurately predicted a high fluid-intelligence score.

Scientists likened these unique brain connections to fingerprints, noting that the networks identified individuals with "near-perfect accuracy in many cases." These mental connection maps may one day be used to predict behavior (hello, Minority Report), or tailor education and healthcare programs for individual people, researchers said.

Each human's brain produces a unique map of connections, and untangling these communications is a complex, tricky art that neuroscientists are just beginning to understand. The publication today is one step in unraveling the foundational mysteries of intelligence, thought, mental illness and personality.

[Image credit: Minority Report, Fox]