In 1955, one of the greatest thinkers of all time died. Who could imagine that decades after his death, his unique brain would reveal the secret of what makes a genius. I’m referring to Albert Einstein, of course. What mysteries does Einstein’s brain hide? What makes it so unique? Let’s find out.
Albert Einstein is a key figure in the history of science, both mathematics and physics. He is known as a man with a bright mind who was much ahead of his time. Einstein’s brain is a mystery to this day and beyond its distinctive features, other secrets of what makes a genius gradually come to light.
Thomas Stoltz Harvey who conducted the autopsy of Einstein’s body removed his brain and then dissected it into several pieces. By the way, the great physicist never wanted this to happen, so Harvey did it without permission. Moreover, the fact that Einstein’s brain was preserved was kept secret until 1978.
Studies of the unique brain of the genius started in the ‘80s. A closer investigation revealed that Einstein’s brain had less grey matter in the regions responsible for speech and language while more of it in the areas involved in numerical and spatial processing.
In 1984, Dr. Marian Diamond of the University of California, Berkeley found that the physicist’s brain contained a greater number of glial cells in comparison with the regular brain. These cells play an important role in the nutrition of the brain and participate in brain signal transmission.
It’s worth noting that the difference was particularly big in the left inferior parietal area, which is responsible for coordinating the information from other brain areas.
Einstein’s Brain’s Hippocampus
In 2001, Dr. Dahlia Zaidel from the University of California studied Einstein’s hippocampus. It’s a brain region that is involved in learning, information processing, and memory. He found that brain cells on the left side of the hippocampus were much larger than the ones on the right.
According to Dr. Zaidel, this could mean that Einstein had a better connection between the neurons in the hippocampus and the neocortex. The latter is a brain area responsible for logical and analytical thought.
Connections between the Cerebral Hemispheres
Finally, recent research reveals that Einstein’s brain had a stronger connection between its hemispheres. The study was based on 14 photographs of Einstein’s brain that were taken by Thomas Harvey during the autopsy after the physicist’s death and only recently came to light.
The team examined the corpus callosum of the physicist’s brain – a fiber bundle with the function to connect the two hemispheres. Using a new technique, the scientists measured the thickness of the corpus callosum and then compared it with that in the brains of 67 people: 15 elderly men and 52 women aged 26 – people in both groups were of average intelligence. As a matter of fact, 26 was the age when Einstein came up with the quantum theory of light.
The results showed that the corpus callosum of the genius brain was thicker than that of the other two groups. Thus, the scientists concluded that the connections between the two cerebral hemispheres in Einstein’s brain were stronger, compared to the normal brains of all ages. Thus, the study provides evidence that the two hemispheres of Einstein’s brain were better connected with each other than those in the average person’s brain.
The Prefrontal Cortex and Parietal Lobe
The study by the Chinese scientists is the first to examine the newly discovered photographs of Einstein’s brain. Further analysis was done by a team of researchers at Florida State University, led by Dean Falk.
According to it, the brain of Einstein also exhibits some characteristics observed in the prefrontal cortex and parietal lobe, while the visual and somatosensory cortex is larger than usual. The prefrontal cortex is associated with abstract thinking, and the parietal lobe is associated with visual-spatial perception and mathematical thinking.
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