Scientists have developed a scan that can measure the maturity of the brain, an advance that someday might be useful for testing whether children are maturing normally and for gauging whether teenagers are grown-up enough to be treated as adults.
A federally funded study that involved scanning more than 12,000 connections in the brains of 238 volunteers ages 7 to 30 found that the technique appeared to accurately differentiate between the brains of adults and children and determine roughly where individuals scored in the normal trajectory of brain development.
While much more work is needed to validate and refine the test, the technique could have a host of uses, including providing another way to make sure children’s brains are developing properly, in the same way doctors routinely measure other developmental milestones. The scan could, for example, identify children who might be at risk for autism, schizophrenia and other problems because their brains are not maturing normally.
Reported by Rob Stein
Submitted by Anna