US Researchers say there is a ‘developmental clock’ inside the brain that can reveal exact age and help understand the mechanisms underlying disorders such as ADHD and autism.
“We have uncovered a ‘developmental clock’ of sorts within the brain-a biological signature of maturation that captures age differences quite well, regardless of other kinds of differences that exist across individuals,” said Timothy Brown of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
Scientists scanned the brains of 885 people between the ages of 3 and 20 and used the scans to identify 231 biomarkers of brain anatomy that, when combined, could assess an individual’s age with more than 92 percent accuracy.
“The fact that we found a collection of brain measures that so accurately captures a person’s chronological age means that brain development, or at least certain anatomical aspects of it, is more tightly controlled than we knew previously,” Brown said.
“The regularity in this maturity metric among typically developing children suggests that it might be sensitive to detecting abnormality as well.”
Researchers, however, could not link the anatomical brain changes to behavior maturity, which is not necessarily reflected by our chronological age.
Scientists hope the new finding can help them understand the cause of developmental disorders such as ADHD and autism.
“One of the big questions that we’ve had is, are neurodevelopmental disorders to do with the rate of development or are they just wrong development,” Professor Rhoshel Lenroot of Neuroscience Research Australia told ABC.
“It would be marvelous to be able to look at that same data set and track this combined phenotype and say, ‘does it really look like it was just slow or is there something that is looking different?”
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