November 16, 2012
Photos Of Einstein’s Brain Reveal Areas That May Have Made Him A Genius
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The name “Einstein” has long been synonymous with the term “genius.” The man behind that attribution, the late Albert Einstein, has been the center of attention for decades, as scientists and physicists try to decipher the inner workings of his intellectual being.
Now, a new study, led by Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk, has found that portions of Einstein´s brain are unlike those of most people and could be a reason why the man behind the general theory of relativity had such extraordinary cognitive abilities.
Falk, along with colleagues at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center and the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM), describe for the first time the entire cerebral cortex of Einstein´s brain from an examination of 14 recently discovered photographs. The images were compared to 85 “normal” brains using functional imaging studies.
“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,” said Falk, who is the Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology at FSU. “These may have provided the neurological underpinnings for some of his visuospatial and mathematical abilities, for instance.”
When Einstein died in 1955, his brain was removed with the permission of his family. Scientists photographed the brain from multiple angles before being sectioned into 240 blocks and prepared with histological slides. Most of that evidence is housed at the University Medical Center in Princeton, New Jersey, where Einstein´s brain was taken after he died. Most of the remaining material, photos and samples have gone missing for more than half a century; It was only recently that the missing artifacts reemerged, including the 14 previously unknown photographs, uncovered by the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The study also published a “roadmap” of Einstein´s brain based on the 240 slides prepared by Dr. Thomas Harvey in 1955. The researchers said the illustration will provide a key to locating the origins within the brain of the newly emerged histological slides.
"Although it is beyond the scope of this article, we also hope that our identifications will be useful for workers interested in comparing Einstein's brain with preserved brains from other gifted individuals," Falk told USA Today´s Doyle Rice.
The study is published in the latest issue of the journal Brain.