Uncommon features of Einstein's brain might explain his remarkable cognitive abilities

Albert Einstein

Portions of Albert Einstein's brain have been found to be unlike those of most people and could be related to his extraordinary cognitive abilities, according to a new study led by Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk.

Falk, along with colleagues Frederick E. Lepore of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Adrianne Noe, director of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, describe for the first time the entire cerebral cortex of Einstein's brain from an examination of 14 recently discovered photographs. The researchers compared Einstein's brain to 85 "normal" and, in light of current functional imaging studies, interpreted its unusual features.

"Although the overall size and asymmetrical shape of Einstein's brain were normal, the prefrontal, somatosensory, primary motor, parietal, temporal and occipital were extraordinary," said Falk, the Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology at Florida State. "These may have provided the neurological underpinnings for some of his visuospatial and mathematical abilities, for instance."

The study, "The of : A Description and Preliminary Analysis of Unpublished Photographs," will be published Nov. 16 in the journal Brain.

Upon Einstein's death in 1955, his brain was removed and photographed from multiple angles with the permission of his family. Furthermore, it was sectioned into 240 blocks from which histological slides were prepared. Unfortunately, a great majority of the photographs, blocks and slides were lost from public sight for more than 55 years. The 14 photographs used by the researchers now are held by the National Museum of Health and Medicine.

The paper also publishes the "roadmap" to Einstein's brain prepared in 1955 by Dr. Thomas Harvey to illustrate the locations within Einstein's previously whole brain of 240 dissected blocks of tissue, which provides a key to locating the origins within the brain of the newly emerged histological slides.

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TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (17) Nov 15, 2012
I think for science we need to cut open hawkings head for comparison. Is feynmans brain on ice somewhere?
persecond
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 16, 2012
"The researchers compared Einstein's brain to 85 "normal" human brains "

I don't think there are "normal" human brains.
everyone has talent,in fact,I think we just don't know how to discover it yet .
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.5 / 5 (13) Nov 16, 2012
"The researchers compared Einstein's brain to 85 "normal" human brains "

I don't think there are "normal" human brains.
everyone has talent,in fact,I think we just don't know how to discover it yet .
"Everybody is a unique and wondrous individual as is every animal, bug, and amoeba on the face of gods green earth. There are no categories, no clades, no species, no races, no divisions in this infinite life soup in which we all swim." -walt Disney as paraphrased by pope John Paul II

-I see your talent for creative punctuation is what makes you unique.
Rdavid
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 16, 2012
It is uncertain whether the brains of Heisenberg, Dirac and Schrodinger are on ice.
Jeddy_Mctedder
2.1 / 5 (7) Nov 16, 2012
if einstein were alive today the psychiatrists would have labeled him with some disease or condition like aspergers or some non-sense. the above research about einstein is absurd because neuroscience has already established that it is the function of the brain that comprises the brains performance, not the structure.

as we of yet have little clue how brains work, but only a better to clue as to pathologies observed in the brain-----it is absurd to point to the macro-structural differences between allegedly healthy brain specimens and use them as an expalanation for the difference in intelligence.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (16) Nov 16, 2012
if einstein were alive today the psychiatrists would have labeled him with some disease or condition like aspergers or some non-sense. the above research about einstein is absurd because neuroscience has already established that it is the function of the brain that comprises the brains performance, not the structure.

as we of yet have little clue how brains work, but only a better to clue as to pathologies observed in the brain-----it is absurd to point to the macro-structural differences between allegedly healthy brain specimens and use them as an expalanation for the difference in intelligence.
Brains at not magical black boxes. They are machines and we are capable of understanding fully how they work based on how they are constructed.

This is the basis of evolutionary psychology. We will not only figure out how it works, but how to fix it and how to improve it. We will also be able to emulate it with much more efficient and robust and appropriate machines.
triplehelix
1 / 5 (3) Nov 16, 2012
I agree with Jeddy. We know a fair bit about the brain, but in comparison to 250 years time, I am sure the students then will look at our techniques like we look at the ancients drilling holes in skulls to let demons out. Most scientists electricuting schizphrenic people in 1930 said we know most about the brain ghostofotto, dont make the same mistake they did.

Size amounts to a correlation in brain power somewhat, however, this publication is quite vague, it just says "einsteins is extraordinary". Right, how extraordinary? A 6'4" person is extraordinary statistically speaking, yet humans can go up to 8'11 (robert wadlow). How extraordinary was it? Also how accurate can we really be from photographs? Im sure we can be fairly accurate, but compare it to measuring the physical brain, and hooking up that live brain to todays isntruments...
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.5 / 5 (13) Nov 16, 2012
Sorry th but jm said
neuroscience has already established that it is the function of the brain that comprises the brains performance, not the structure
...but neuroscience is telling us this:

"EP views the human brain as comprising many functional MECHANISMS called psychological adaptations or evolved cognitive mechanisms or cognitive MODULES, designed by the process of natural selection. Examples include language-acquisition modules, incest-avoidance mechanisms, cheater-detection mechanisms, intelligence and sex-specific mating preferences, foraging mechanisms, alliance-tracking mechanisms, agent-detection mechanisms, and others. Some mechanisms, termed domain-specific, deal with recurrent adaptive problems over the course of human evolutionary history"

-These modules and mechanisms are physical structures. Their configuration determines how they work, just like any machine.

And relative size has nothing to do with function. You ought to research before posting.
baudrunner
1.3 / 5 (4) Nov 16, 2012
Einstein made his own brain by being what he was and thinking how he did. The brain is like any muscle, it gets better with use and it can be specialized. If you have never done a crossword puzzle and you begin to do them, you will start completing them only after a few weeks of daily trials, and they will become easy to do after a while, even if at first they seemed hard to do. Same with anything else, really.
Ranger4564
1 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2012
The brain is one of the most misunderstood organs in our body. Looking for large chunks of matter might not be so bad, but alone it's not an indicator of anything.

Every human brain is somewhat unique, like our fingerprints. Add to that the electrochemical interactions, the response / actions of the rest of the organs, our choices, our conditioning, everything ends up having affects on our brain.

What Einstein had going for him was fearless curiosity, a mind open to making new and unique connections (creativity), an ability to abstract to a high level (analytical), and the courage to form his own opinions (self-esteem).

The brain is a huge repository... processors and memory cells in 1, and the more connections you allow between seemingly disparate recorded experiences, the more creative you are. It's literally connecting the dots. The more you allow, the more you can make. The more culturally confined you are, the less open minded you are, the less connections you allow/make.
Ranger4564
not rated yet Nov 16, 2012
Wish there was a delete. :D
UberGoober
1 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2012
Duh. Einstein was an alien.
Oysteroid
1 / 5 (4) Nov 18, 2012
No no, the ancient doctors of antiquity (think classic Greece and Egypt) were right - brain is a cooling organ responsible for prevention of body overheating.

The unusual structure of Einsten's brain simply means that it provided more efficient cooling to the bones of the skull (where all the thinking processes take place of course) and allowed them to operate with much better efficiency at the nearly cryogenic temperatures that brain provided.

See? Cool stuff, eh?