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Inter-individual variability in perception, thought and action is frequently treated as a source of ‘noise’ in scientific investigations of the neural mechanisms that underlie these processes, and discarded by averaging data from a group of participants. However, recent MRI studies in the human brain show that inter- individual variability in a wide range of basic and higher cognitive functions — including perception, motor control, memory, aspects of consciousness and the ability to introspect — can be predicted from the local structure of grey and white matter as assessed by voxel-based morphometry or diffusion tensor imaging. We propose that inter-individual differences can be used as a source of information to link human behaviour and cognition to brain anatomy.
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