MRI Helps Predict the Future


September 2014

Brain imaging can be used to predict future cognitive abilities, meaning that developmental brain disorders could be detected in childhood, according to a study in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The study examined 62 children between the ages of 6 and 20 who under went a series of cognitive tests, including measures of working memory. As the children completed the tests, researchers performed MRI scans. The results were used to predict the children’s future working memory. Two years later, the participants completed the same tests while undergoing an MRI. Researchers found that MRIs could predict to a degree the speed of cognitive development in the two years between the tests — future memory capacity and memory could be inferred from the first test by looking at how much activity went on in areas such as the thalamus. “Until now, neuroimaging has just given us pictures of behavior we already knew about,” said Torkel Klingberg, MD, PhD, one of the researchers. “Now this is telling us we can use the MR scanner for something novel.” 

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