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Mental maturity scan tracks brain development

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Five minutes in a scanner can reveal how far a child’s brain has come along the path from childhood to maturity and potentially shed light on a range of psychological and developmental disorders, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown. Researchers assert this week in Science that their study proves brain imaging data can offer more extensive help in tracking aberrant brain development.

Researchers have shown that functional brain networks have the potential to help physicians probe psychiatric and developmental disorders. In this graphic, the brain regions that are important to assessing the maturity of the brain are shown as spheres, with the size of the sphere representing the region’s relative importance. Different sphere colors identify brain regions as members of different functional networks. The orange connections strengthen and the green connections weaken as the brain progresses toward adulthood.

Written by Giorgio Bertini

May 23, 2011 at 1:47 am