Einstein’s Brain Reveals New Clues to Intelligence

In an attempt to understand intelligence, researchers have once again focused their attention on Albert Einstein’s brain.  A study published in a recent issue in the Journal Brain disclosed some new insight as to what made Einstein so intelligent.  In the Red Orbit article Photos of Einstein’s Brain Reveal Areas That May Have Made Him A Genius, Anthropologist Dean Falk from the Florida State University explained, “The overall size and asymmetrical shape of Einstein’s brain were normal. [But] the prefrontal, somatosensory, primary motor, parietal, temporal and occipital cortices were extraordinary. These may have provided the neurological underpinnings for some of his visuospatial and mathematical abilities, for instance.”

There have been 14 new photos found of Einstein’s brain that have been evaluated.  The USA Today article Einstein’s Brain: It Was Better Than Yours, explained, “After the photos were taken, the brain itself was cut into 240 separate blocks for analysis, most of which remain at the University Medical Center in Princeton, N.J., where Einstein’s brain was taken after he died.”

In 2009, Odyssey reported that the reason for Einstein’s intelligence may be due to an increase in glia cells.  “Glia help neurons by giving them nutrients and by cleaning up after the mess neurons make when they do their work. Neurons can make electrical signals because they are tiny batteries. Just as in a flashlight battery, the voltage in a neuron is generated by a special salt solution. When a neuron fires an electric pulse, sodium, which is the positively charged partner of the salt known as sodium chloride, flows into the neuron.”

Einstein died from a ruptured aneurism in 1955. He was 76.  An autopsy was performed in Princeton Hospital. According to the Einstein Quarterly article A Brief History of Einstein’s Brain, “Einstein’s brain weighed 1230 grams, well within the range of 1200-1600 grams that is normal for a human male.” Einstein never gave approval to study his brain. Permission came from his family once they were made aware that his brain had been removed and preserved.

The brain is often described in sections, referred to as Brodmann’s areas.  Einstein’s Brodmann area 39 (part of the parietal lobe) showed a statistically significant difference from the average brain.  The parietal lobe may be an important indicator of  intelligence. The latest research has discovered some differences in Einstein’s frontal lobe as well. To find out more about the importance of this lobe, check out the Nova video at the end of this article.

Some interesting things about Einstein include:  He had dyslexia as a child; he figured out the theory of relativity in his 20s, he played the violin, and  Einstein had an IQ of 160.

To find out what happened to Einstein’s brain, check out Nova’s video:  How Smart Can We Get

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