Rights: The University of Waikato Published 21 July 2007 Download

Dr Richard Watts from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury talks about variation in brains.

There is a lot of variation in brains from one individual to another, and it is not unusual to find little abnormalities. Researchers have to be very aware of this and handle the issues, when they arise, with sensitivity.


There’s a lot of variation in our brains so, many of us will have abnormalities and we have to be very aware of that, particularly when we’re just scanning normal volunteers so we don’t expect to have any problems but it’s not unusual to find little abnormalities and we need to be aware of those and we work with radiologists when we spot something that looks a little bit suspicious. They have experience of looking at scans and deciding what’s in the normal range, what’s actually going to cause problems. To some extent it doesn’t matter if you have some abnormalities so long as it’s not gonna cause you problems. You might have a cyst or something, which is just a little bit of fluid in your brain and that might be absolutely fine. So there’s an awful lot of variability in our brains and we have to be aware of that.