October 5, 2013
Einstein’s Genius Likely A Result Of His Well-Connected Brain
[ Watch the Video: Dissecting Einstein's Brain ]
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Albert Einstein is generally recognized as one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, but exactly what was it that made his brain so special? The authors of a recently published study believe that they have found the answer to that riddle.
Writing in the journal Brain, Weiwei Men of East China Normal University's Department of Physics and his colleagues explained that the left and right hemispheres of the German-born theoretical physicist’s brain were exceptionally well connected to one another. That connection could have played a vital role in his intelligence.
“This study, more than any other to date, really gets at the 'inside' of Einstein's brain. It provides new information that helps make sense of what is known about the surface of Einstein's brain,” Florida State University (FSU) evolutionary anthropologist Dr. Dean Falk explained in a statement.
The study authors developed a new technique to conduct their research, which they claim is the first to analyze Einstein's corpus callosum (the largest bundle of fibers in the brain, and the part of the brain that that connects the two cerebral hemispheres and facilitates interhemispheric communication) in detail. Dr. Falk said that their method “should be of interest to other researchers who study the brain's all-important internal connectivity.”
According to FSU, the technique developed by Men’s team “measures and color-codes the varying thicknesses of subdivisions of the corpus callosum along its length, where nerves cross from one side of the brain to the other. These thicknesses indicate the number of nerves that cross and therefore how ‘connected’ the two sides of the brain are in particular regions, which facilitate different functions depending on where the fibers cross along the length.”
This technique allowed the study authors to register and compare the measurements of Einstein’s brain with those of two existing samples, one belonging to 15 elderly men and the other from 52 men who were Einstein’s age in 1905. During that year, the then-26-year-old physicist published four articles that would be essential to the foundations of modern physics, and helped alter the scientific community’s views of space, time, mass and energy.
Men started work analyzing Einstein's corpus callosum by requesting high-resolution photographs of the two halves of the genius’s brain that had been published by Falk and other researchers in 2012. Their findings demonstrate that the man behind the general theory of relativity had more extensive connections between specific regions of his cerebral hemispheres than either the younger or older control groups.
In addition to Men and Falk, who served as second author of the paper, Tao Sun of the Washington University School of Medicine and Weibo Chen, Jianqi Li, Dazhi Yin, Lili Zang and Mingxia Fan from the East China Normal University's Department of Physics were among the members of the research team.
In March 2012, sections from Einstein’s brain were displayed alongside gray matter from other prominent historical figures at an exhibition in London. As the legendary thinker had requested, his brain was divided into several sections upon his death in 1955. The portions featured during the Wellcome Collection show “Brains: The Mind As Matter” had originally been put on display to the public in a Philadelphia museum back in 2011.