New Features Found in Einstein's Brain

Apr 21, 2009 by Miranda Marquit weblog
Albert Einstein had a brain different from the "average" person.

(PhysOrg.com) -- When one thinks of Einstein, it is natural to assume that obviously his brain differed from that of the average person. And, ever since Thomas Harvey, a pathologist in Princeton, removed Einstein's brain upon his 1955 death and documented it, scientists have been studying it. Currently, Einstein's brain is in 240 pieces, mounted on slides. However, measurements and photographs were taken of the brain prior to its dis-assembly, and these photos are pored over every few years by those wishing to unravel the secrets of the brain belonging to one of the geniuses of the 20th Century.

In 1999, an anatomical study of Einstein's brain was made. Interestingly, reports Science Now, his brain was smaller than average:

"One parameter that did not explain Einstein's mental prowess, however, was the size of his brain: At 1230 grams, it fell at the low end of average for modern humans."

This meant that it was necessary to study the other intricacies of his brain. If Einstein's overall brain were at the smaller end, perhaps there were other things to find. The 1999 study by a team in Canada found that Einstein's parietal lobes were 15% wider than average. Science Now points out that these lobes are usually connected to spatial and visual cognition, as well as mathematics.

A new study has found even more differences in Einstein's brain. Dean Falk works at Florida State University and has studied the photographs of Einstein's brain in detail. In addition to the parietal lobes, Falk claims to have discovered a pattern of ridges and grooves in those wider lobes that is rare. This rare pattern is thought to have contributed to Einstein's visual thinking when it came to physics.

Another difference Falk found is related to a knob found in the . Science Now describes the implications of this knob in the brain:

"[ I ]n other studies, similar "knobs" have been associated with musical ability. (Einstein had played the violin avidly since childhood.)"

The idea is that what made a genius has more to do with the structure of his brain, than its size. However, it is important to keep in mind that Einstein's brain in its totality can only be studied via photograph and compared to other photographs. And, of course, the brain is a complex and still-mysterious organ. But it may be that we can glean some additional insight from studying the structure of Einstein's .

© 2009 PhysOrg.com

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User comments : 27

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earls
3 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2009
Ok, that's just creepy.
x646d63
5 / 5 (4) Apr 21, 2009
The idea is that what made Einstein a genius has more to do with the structure of his brain, than it's [sic] size.


Is it really that difficult to use 'its' correctly?
googleplex
4 / 5 (5) Apr 21, 2009
Like any great achievement it is 99% persperation and 1% inspiration. He worked extremely hard. I heard that Einsteins wardrobe consisted almost exclusively of duplicates. That way he did not waste thought time on what to wear.



I think some people try to look for some physical gift because they can't comprehend what hard work is let alone how to do it.



I knew a physics student at college who memorized every single page of lecture notes. He did not have a photographic memory. This dedication of 100% of his time both astonished and humbled me. Almost every second of his time was spent revising pages in his head. Once he had them dialed in, he could revise the pages purely using thought. Waiting for a bus, doing the laundry were all revision opportunities as the data was all in his head.



If I had never met anyone like this I would probably never realize that there are regular people 100% dedicated to a goal.
dirk_bruere
1 / 5 (2) Apr 21, 2009
If they had any sense at the time they would have frozen his brain in LN2 and left it to a later period where the technology wasn't stone age. Might even have been able to upload him at some point.
E_L_Earnhardt
1.3 / 5 (13) Apr 21, 2009
The greatest discovery was that it was about average! He showed all of us what you can do with a average brain if you just USE it! By the way, he had a deep belief in God! ("The OLD ONE")
Fazer
5 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2009
Hmmm, yeah, I was just thinking about all of the heads in jars on the show Futurama, and I don't remember seeing Einstein in a jar. Now I know why: They diced him up into little pieces, ewwww.

Seriously though, it could be a combination of things: Unique brain structures, hard work and dedication to a task, being in the right place at the right time. It's all adds up. Maybe one day we will know where genius comes from. In the mean time, let's just hope there are plenty of geniuses out there. Will the real T.O.E. please stand up?
Scottama
5 / 5 (6) Apr 22, 2009
No, Earnheardt. No, he didn't.
jwbales
1 / 5 (6) Apr 22, 2009
Yes, Earnheardt. Yes, he did.

To what extent are you influenced by Christianity?
"As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene."

Have you read Emil Ludwig's book on Jesus?
"Emil Ludwig's Jesus is shallow. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot."

You accept the historical Jesus?
"Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."

George Sylvester Viereck, "What Life Means to Einstein", The Saturday Evening Post, 26 October 1929.
SeanCell
5 / 5 (3) Apr 22, 2009
Who really cares if he believed in a God or not? You guys keeping score?
Arikin
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 22, 2009
This is funny. We barely know anything about the brain and we are trying to analyze his...

Kinda like a cave man trying to understand a computer by breaking it into smaller pieces.

But I guess it is still fun to do anyway. Now where did I put my club?
Soylent
5 / 5 (10) Apr 22, 2009
By the way, he had a deep belief in God! ("The OLD ONE")


"The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."
Soylent
5 / 5 (13) Apr 22, 2009
Oh and how could I forget:

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

Can we put the god crap to rest now?
Amanullah
not rated yet Apr 22, 2009
too true Arikin
Velanarris
5 / 5 (4) Apr 22, 2009
Thank you Soylent.
earls
2 / 5 (1) Apr 22, 2009
Yes Arikin, but there's a clear difference between smashing something into pieces and carefully dissecting it.
googleplex
not rated yet Apr 22, 2009
Thanks Soylent for data.
I do agree that his brain should have been Cryo frozen. Circa 2045 we will be regretting that mistake (Kurzweil et al). Although ultimately it won't matter as computerized human level thought will become so cheap in the next 50 years. I only hope that it happens in the US. However it is more likely to happen in China or India. The US is in a massive trade,financial and education deficit. We need thought automation to spur the next tech revolution and claw us out of the caveman dark ages.
randyb
not rated yet Apr 22, 2009
It seems like they're looking for something or anything that can explain his brilliance and anything that is different has to be the explanation.

The fact that people are still researching his brain after all this time should reflect poorly on the individuals doing so. There are SO many other more important matters to attend to.

I protest funding for wasteful efforts such as this!
Nevertheless
not rated yet Apr 22, 2009
"I protest funding for wasteful efforts such as this!"

Einstein claimed that the reason he worked on his Unified Field Theory (even though the work was going nowhere for so long) was because he wanted to show that it was a dead end and so no one else would have to go down that barren road.
Velanarris
5 / 5 (1) Apr 22, 2009
Thanks Soylent for data.

I do agree that his brain should have been Cryo frozen. Circa 2045 we will be regretting that mistake (Kurzweil et al). Although ultimately it won't matter as computerized human level thought will become so cheap in the next 50 years. I only hope that it happens in the US. However it is more likely to happen in China or India. The US is in a massive trade,financial and education deficit. We need thought automation to spur the next tech revolution and claw us out of the caveman dark ages.


Why do people immediately go to cryo as a way to save people? Cryo-statis results in total cellular damage. Water, main component of the human body, and all cells found in nature, expands drastically when frozen. Everyone of those people frozen are long gone, permanently.
Yes
2.5 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2009
Presumption.

Cause: Big brain =>

result: Intelligence.

Deception: Small brain.

result: Huuu must be ehh. the big frontlobes then.

There are so many other options.

Cause: Big effort in spatial science =>

Result: Front lobes increased size. We have seen the brain adapting.

Maybe the intelligence was in the use of his hairstyle. With all those antennas in the free Fresnel zone he must have picked up the thoughts of God. Huh. :)
brant
2 / 5 (4) Apr 25, 2009
Whats the big deal.
He was not that smart.
Sonhouse
5 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2009
Whats the big deal.

He was not that smart.

And of course you would be judging Einstein comparing to your own contributions, which must be immeasurable.
superhuman
not rated yet Apr 26, 2009
Why do people immediately go to cryo as a way to save people? Cryo-statis results in total cellular damage. Water, main component of the human body, and all cells found in nature, expands drastically when frozen. Everyone of those people frozen are long gone, permanently.


While, ice crystals which form certainly do significant damage, it's still by far the best method of preserving life, there are substances which can be used to substitute for some cellular water and reduce damage during freezing, trehalose (a kind of sugar) is one example.

Human cells are routinely being frozen and thawed in lab practice and while many do die in the process the vast majority is able to survive.

Freezing animals is way more challenging but it should eventually be possible to freeze a human and then bring him back to life. Still the process will likely result in some permanent damage to the individual.
NanoStuff
not rated yet Apr 26, 2009
Modern cryonics has become very effective at limiting crystal damage. Even if the level of damage in the cell is beyond biological revival, only enough information for network reconstruction is required.



Synaptic weights and inter-cellular connections as far as I know are more or less preserved, even though cell membranes are ruptured and molecular processes potentially unresumable as they are.



I suspect that if they have the pieces, even if poorly preserved, his chances for recovery are decent.
googleplex
not rated yet Apr 29, 2009
Thanks Soylent for data.
I do agree that his brain should have been Cryo frozen. Circa 2045 we will be regretting that mistake (Kurzweil et al). Although ultimately it won't matter as computerized human level thought will become so cheap in the next 50 years. I only hope that it happens in the US. However it is more likely to happen in China or India. The US is in a massive trade,financial and education deficit. We need thought automation to spur the next tech revolution and claw us out of the caveman dark ages.

Why do people immediately go to cryo as a way to save people? Cryo-statis results in total cellular damage. Water, main component of the human body, and all cells found in nature, expands drastically when frozen. Everyone of those people frozen are long gone, permanently.

IMHO the primary goal of cryo is not resuscitation or saving people. It is to enable future scan and upload of their minds into a simulator. This virtual restore of the brain should be available c. 2050. Although the exact date doesn't really matter :).
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (1) Apr 29, 2009
You're joking. Einstein wont recover, nobody will be resuscitated unless preparations to preserve the brains are made ahead of time.
Velanarris
not rated yet Apr 29, 2009
You're joking. Einstein wont recover, nobody will be resuscitated unless preparations to preserve the brains are made ahead of time.
I'm guessing vulvox has solved this problem?