Einstein's Brain Shows Why He Was So Smart
Study shows that his gray matter had extra folds
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2012 6:54 PM CST
This undated file photo shows famed physicist Albert Einstein.    (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Albert Einstein had quite the advantage in contemplating the universe, according to a new study. Photographs of his brain reveal unusually complex folding patterns in several areas, particularly his frontal lobes, which are linked to planning and abstract thought, LiveScience reports. "It's a really sophisticated part of the human brain," says study co-author Dean Falk. "And [Einstein's] is extraordinary." Scientists say extra folds allow for more links between brain cells, which would facilitate the kinds of mental leaps Einstein made with his theory of general relativity.

"He did thought experiments where he'd imagine himself riding alongside a beam of light, and this is exactly the part of the brain one would expect to be very active" with such thoughts, says Falk. The story of how Einstein's brain came to light is interesting, too: The pathologist who autopsied him, Thomas Harvey, kept the brain, sliced it into sections, and photographed it for a future book. But Harvey died before writing it, and the pics stayed hidden until the pathologist's family became friendly with a co-author in the study. See the study here, or photographs of Einstein's brain.

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Showing 3 of 32 comments
right2dave
Nov 20, 2012 3:48 PM CST
Cocain use made the extra folds in his brain.
professortech
Nov 20, 2012 10:25 AM CST
Outside of the lame "JOKE" postings this is truly interesting (if not hinted at previously) research. With today's MRI technology it could give us the ability to see whether this "extra wrinkles" trait is something we are born with or something that happens to "big thinkers" over time. If it is something that is inherent than we could identify it at an early age and track the performance of such individuals over time perhaps helping them to take advantage of this advantage. If it happens over time, then likewise it could help to identify those who have developed such a fortuitous trait.
BrushMan
Nov 20, 2012 10:19 AM CST
Einstein's fold eventually kept him behind the intellectual curtain. He never accepted quantum mechanics and had an unremarkable career after Special and General Relativity made him famous.