Monday, October 07, 2013

New Study Reveals Clues to Einstein's Genius

Providing an explanation for Albert Einstein's extraordinary brilliance, a new study has revealed that the left and right hemisphere's of Einstein's brain were unusually well connected, the Huffington Post reported on Saturday.
A group of scientists led by Weiwei Men from the East China Normal University in Shanghai published the study. One of the co-authors, Dean Falk, noted in a press release that the study is of great significance as it
"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."
The study, recently published in Brain, suggests that Einstein's corpus callosum was thicker average, which indicates a greater connectivity between the left and right hemisphere's of the brain. Those who possess a strong connection between both hemispheres of the brain often possess higher levels of intelligence as well. Previous research has also indicated that Einstein's brain had a complex , larger prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with abstract thinking.
Falk and his colleagues came to the conclusion about Einstein's brain after studying a series of unpublished photographs, taken from multiple angles, of Einstein's brain. The research team analyzed the thickness of the brain's corpus callosum and compared the observations to the brain structures found in 15 elderly men and 52 men of Einstein's age in 1905. 1905 is a year of particular significance as it is the same year that Einstein wrote the Annus Mirabilis paper, which contained groundbreaking scientific revelations, including the physicist's theory of relativity.

What does this mean to you and I ? Nothing. We are as smart as we will ever be, sadly. But now we know what it takes to make a genius.

Whatever became of Einstein's brain? First of all, not what he wanted. Einstein specified that he wanted his body, with his brain inside it, to be cremated. But with fame comes consequences. Thomas Harvey, the pathologist on call at the Princeton Hospital, where Einstein died, claimed that he was told that the hospital had permission to perform an autopsy, but no evidence of such permission was ever found. The brain was removed, photographed, and preserved.
Harvey saved his job by getting retroactive permission from Einstein's son, with the understanding that the brain would be saved for scientific inquiry, but lost it several months later for refusing to turn over his specimens to any other actual scientists. Dismissing Harvey didn't get Princeton the brain. Harvey absconded with it to another hospital, where technicians sectioned it into slices. He then studied it for the next forty years, always announcing that he was close to conclusions.
During these decades, the brain had many more adventures. The brain, in slide form, was the subject of a marital dispute when Harvey divorced his wife. (She came close to destroying it completely.)  It was then dumped in the trunk of Harvey's car to make a cross-country tour to Einstein's granddaughter, who didn't want it and was reportedly annoyed when Harvey left it at her house by mistake. At last, Harvey went back to Princeton, and returned it to the very hospital he'd taken it from in the beginning.

Now, more than five decades later, a box of 46 brain slides has made its way to the wonderfully weird Mütter Museum of medical oddities in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where it is now on display. The slides were donated by Dr. Lucy Rorke-Adams, senior neuropathologist at Children's Hospital Philadelphia.

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