Each of us is unique, with our own strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. While this is a truism everyone grasps intuitively, it’s been difficult to determine if and how this individuality is reflected in brain activity.

To investigate, my colleagues and I looked at brain images from volunteers scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI. This technique measures neural activity via blood flow in the brain while people are awake and mentally active. We calculated a “functional connectivity profile” for each person based on their individual patterns of synchronized activity between different parts of the brain.

In fact, it turns out that the ebb and flow of brain activity is like a fingerprint: each person has their own signature pattern, according to our study just published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Using only their connectivity profiles, we could identify individuals from a group. Based purely on these profiles, we could also predict how people would perform on one type of intelligence test.

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