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
Einstein's Brain Shows Why He Was So Smart
This undated file photo shows famed physicist Albert Einstein.    (AP Photo)

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. (More Albert Einstein stories.)

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