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Brain Fingerprints

Neurodiversity is the new norm. Much of our lives we have been taught that the brain and human personality has a “Goldilocks” setting and as humans we need to fit in a box to be normal. For many, this box can be suffocating, almost as if it were a coffin and we emerge after dark, invisible lurking in the shades of night. For me, one of the most ridiculous statements I hear is, you don't look like a neuroscientist. That comment makes my skin crawl. Really, what does a neuroscientist look like? Me. And with 40,000 other neuroscientists in the field (Society for Neuroscience members), it should be obvious none of us are alike. We are a diverse group of people who do back flips when we talk about the brain. Period.

More than ever now, we need to embrace human diversity, from gender to personality to ethnicity to creative genius. Our outside package is just a glimpse of what is going on in our mind and body. There is no box or geometric shape that can encompass the wide range of the human experience. Rather, human neurodiversity is like the spectrum of light, each of us illuminating at our own wavelength, with some of us even in the UV range.

Neuroscience studies show that no two brains are alike and each brain has a distinctive signature, like a fingerprint. Drs. David Van Essen and Matthew Glasser led a group of scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis who have mapped and discovered 180 distinct brain areas in the human cortex, which is twice what Brodmann, the father of the human brain atlas, identified. Distinguishing 97 new cortical regions, in addition to the 83 previously-known regions, allows neuroscientists to identify with greater accuracy the function and output of each brain area, shedding light on brain individuality. This group developed software that accurately generates an automated map of an individual brain like a distinct fingerprint, and we know no two fingerprints are alike. Neither are brains. We are each unique individuals. Science proves it originates with our brains.


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Coalson TS, Harms MP, Jenkinson M, Moeller S, Robinson EC, Sotiropoulos SN, Xu J,

Yacoub E, Ugurbil K, Van Essen DC. The Human Connectome Project's neuroimaging

approach. Nat Neurosci. 2016 Aug 26;19(9):1175-87. doi: 10.1038/nn.4361. Review.

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