“Brain scans may soon be able to help predict a person’s future — some aspects of it, anyway.
Information from these scans increasingly is able to suggest whether a child will have trouble with math, say, or whether someone with mental illness is going to respond to a particular treatment, according to a review of dozens of studies published Wednesday in the journal Neuron.
The review found “growing evidence that brain measures can predict future outcomes or behaviors,” says John Gabrieli, a brain scientist at MIT and the review’s lead author. And the results are often “better than currently available tests or clinical measures,” he says.
The finding suggests that educators and mental health professionals could soon have new tools to help them decide how to assist a struggling student or patient…predictive brain scans are not ready for use in the general public, says Gabrieli. “We’re not within a year of using any of these,” he says. “But we might be within something like five years.””
- From the abstract: Neuroimaging has greatly enhanced the cognitive neuroscience understanding of the human brain and its variation across individuals (neurodiversity) in both health and disease. Such progress has not yet, however, propelled changes in educational or medical practices that improve people’s lives. We review neuroimaging findings in which initial brain measures (neuromarkers) are correlated with or predict future education, learning, and performance in children and adults; criminality; health-related behaviors; and responses to pharmacological or behavioral treatments. Neuromarkers often provide better predictions (neuroprognosis), alone or in combination with other measures, than traditional behavioral measures. With further advances in study designs and analyses, neuromarkers may offer opportunities to personalize educational and clinical practices that lead to better outcomes for people.
–>To learn more about the future of brain health and mental health, check out this presentation delivered by Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, at the 2014 SharpBrains Virtual Summit.