New York, Feb 26 (IANS) Just as personality traits of people may differ, brains also have different traits that affect both anatomical and cognitive factors, such as intelligence and memory, says a new study.
The traits reported in this study are a unique way to examine how brains differ between people, said the study’s first author Patrick Watson, a postdoctoral researcher at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US.
This knowledge can help researchers study subtle differences linked to cognitive abilities, Watson noted.
“We were able to identify cognitive-anatomical characteristics that predict general intelligence and account for individual differences in a specific brain network that is critical to intelligence — the fronto-parietal network,” said study leader Aron Barbey from University of Illinois.
The results were published in the journal NeuroImage.
The researchers measured the size and shape of features all over the brain.
“We were able to look at nerve fiber bundles, white-matter tracts, volume, cortical thickness and blood flow,” Watson said.
“We also were able to look at cognitive variables like executive function and working memory all at once,” Watson noted.
Using a statistical technique called independent component analysis, the researchers grouped measures that were related to each other into four unique traits.
Together, these four traits explained most of the differences in the anatomy of individuals’ brains.
But the brain differences that were unexplained by the four traits accounted for the individual differences in intelligence and memory.
“By looking for unexpected brain differences, we were able to home in on parts of the brain related to things like memory and intelligence,” Watson noted.