Einstein's brilliance due to better-connected brain: Study
07 October 2013
The prodigious analytical capacity of Albert Einstein has been a subject matter of fascination for scientists for decades and several groups of them have studied the physiological structures of his brain after his death to explain his superlative intellectual prowess.
And each has identified one or more physical characteristic in which his brain differed from that of average adults. A recent study, the first by Chinese scientists, has revealed that Einstein's brain was unusually well-connected.
The study was conducted by a research group at East China Normal University in Shanghai, the results of which were published in the journal Brain, earlier this week. The group observed high-resolution images of the late physicist's actual brain tissue, which had been preserved intact, ever since Princeton University Hospital surgeon Thomas Stoltz Harvey, extracted it just hours following the scientist's death on 18 April, 1955, in the hospital from an aortic aneurism.
Weiwei Men, East China Normal physicist and the study's lead researcher, focused on a central juncture, the corpus callosum, which connects the brain's two halves together.
The human brain, is divided into a right hemisphere and a left one, each responsible for a different array of functions.
While the left discerns order and structure and directs grammar, vocabulary, word comprehension, and mathematical computation, the right oversees processing of form, structure, language intonation, general quantities, and emotion responses. The corpus callosum is the seat of communication between the two hemispheres.
According to Florida State University (FSU), evolutionary anthropologist, Dean Falk, the study, more than any other to date, really got the 'inside' of Einstein's brain, to provide new information that helped make sense of what was known about the surface of Einstein's brain.
The authors of the study developed a new technique to conduct their research, which they claimed was the first to analyse Einstein's corpus callosum (the largest bundle of fibres in the brain in detail. He added, that their method ''should be of interest to other researchers who study the brain's all-important internal connectivity.''
With the technique, the study authors were able 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.
In four articles, that year, the then-26-year-old physicist laid out the essential elements of modern physics, which helped alter the scientific community's views of space, time, mass and energy.
Men started his study of 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.
The analysis revealed 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.