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Oct 5, 2015

Successful People Have Better Brains, Shows Study

brain mapScientists have figured out that there is a relation between brain’s neural connections and our behavior traits. It means that we can assume that more successful people have better brains.

Next time, you don’t need to feel like a criminal when your parents compare your results with Sharmaji’s son in the neighborhood. In fact, you can confidently say that he has a different brain. All credit goes to a study done by some scientific minds at the Oxford University.

Scientists have figured out that brains of those people who live positive lifestyle are better connected than those who live a negative lifestyle and with negative behavior traits. They did some brain scans and realized that positive traits like better education, high salary, strong memory, mental peace led to the fact that their brains were more connected than those people who negative traits like drinking, smoking, anger, sleep disorders.

The study was conducted by Center for Functional MRi of the Brain, Oxford University, under the guidance of Professor Stephen Smith. While talking to Steve Conner from The Independent, Smith explained the very basic methodology they implemented in their study:

“We’ve tried to see how we can relate what we see in the brain to the behavior skills we can measure in different people. In doing this, we hope to able to understand what goes on ‘under the bonnet’ of the brain.”
The research team used the data from the Human Connectome Project, here on HCP, which is a collection of brain imaging data of around 1200 people published in 2010. The goal of HCP is to find out how closely the different regions of the brain connected when it is on stand-by mode.

The data for 461 of those 1200 people, aged between 22 to 35, has been released by HCP. Smith’s team analyzed their brain connections and compared the results with 280 behavioral and demographic measures like age, social status, financial status, drug addiction, etc.

At a press release, Smith said:

“The quality of the imaging data is really unprecedented. Not only is the number of subjects we get to study large, but the spatial and temporal resolution of the fMRI data is way ahead of previous large datasets.”
Smith and his team elaborated how they were able to map the brain of individual subjects and come up with personalized ‘Connectomes’. These Connectomes depict the neural connections between 200 different areas of the brain. These Connectomes are used to measure how closely these regions are connected and how efficient is the communication between them, keeping in mind, the amount nerve signalling going on in those regions.

“You can think of it as a population-average map of 200 regions across the brain that are functionally distinct from each other. Then, we looked at how much all of those regions communicated with each other, in every participant.”
-Stephen Smith

Proceeding further, Smith’s team did some serious maths calculations, way more than geeks can imagine, on the individual data of 280 behavioral and demographic traits. It is basically a Canonical Correlation Analysis(Google it), which involves identifying relationships between two large sets of complex variables.

They concluded, the people who were more positively oriented in their lives, had almost same characteristics and their different brain regions has a more close relationship than the ones who were negatively oriented in their lives.

“It may be that with hundreds of different brain circuits, the tests that are used to measure cognitive ability actually make use of different sets of overlapping circuits. We hope that by looking at brain imaging data we’ll be able to relate connections in the brain to the specific measures, and work out what these kinds of test actually require the brain to do.”
-Stephen Smith


In a general opinion, it isn’t wise to comment on the correlation between the brain’s neural network and human physical & behaviour traits at this point of time, as considerable research is yet to be done in this field. However, such studies will benefit and support the outcomes of any future studies involving human brain. But till then, at least we can give some sympathy to our lazy lives.

Watch this video and improve your understanding about Human Connectomes:

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