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Why was Albert Einstein so intelligent?

Credits : George Hodan / Public Domain Pictures

Who hasn’t dreamt of having a brain like Albert Einstein? But what made his brain better than ours? Receiving the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921,   Albert Einstein is known worldwide as being a genius of modern times. Not wanting his grave to be a cult object, he opted to be cremated when he died so his ashes could be dispersed.  However in 1955, doctor Thomas Harvey who was entrusted with his autopsy secretly removed his brain. Ever since research has been carried out to unravel the incredible mind of this genius.  

First surprising analysis

The first surprising result Harvey discovered when examining Einstein’s brain was that it weighed 1230 g instead of 1300 g the weight of an average man. The size of your brain does not necessarily have a significant effect on your intelligence.

It wasn’t until 1985 that Harvey and a few of his fellow colleagues started to publish their discoveries after stirring up a lot of fantasies and speculation.   They initially concluded that Einstein’s brain had more glial cells than an average man. (These are the cells which protect and nourish neurons.)

In 1999 a new publication aroused a lot of interest which was written by Harvey and Sandra Witelson, a brain surgeon.  They stated that, in comparison with control brains they had worked with, Eistein’s brain had unique parietal lobes. In addition they remarked that his brain lacked the parietal operculum structure which helps a person make precise movements with their hands.

Einstein’s intelligence in these cognitive domains and his scientific way of thinking, as he himself described it, could be linked to the typical anatomy of his lower parietal lobules,” remarked the two researchers.

Albert Einstein
Credits : George Hodan/ Public Domain Pictures

Further studies question previous results… however confirm the Einstein’s unusual brain

Dean Falk, an anthropologist and specialist in brain evolution, came to a conclusion that contradicted the results of the previous research. 

Her research came back with other interesting results which could possibly explain the abnormal intelligence of Einstein. By comparing Einstein’s brain with 85 other control brains, she observed a remarkable difference with the brain of the prodigy. “Einstein had extraordinary prefrontal cortices, with complex folds that could have contributed to his remarkable cognitive abilities.” She also added: “In general if there is increased refolding in a specific area this suggests that there may be an increase in the rate of neurons in this region and, in fact, an increase in the complexity of their connections.

If this possible increase in the rate of neurons wasn’t enough to prove the incredible intelligence of the physicist she added, “the primary somatosensory and motor cortices near the regions that typically represent face and tongue are greatly expanded in the left hemisphere. The parietal lobes are also unusual and may have provided some of the neurological underpinnings for his visuospatial and mathematical skills, as others have hypothesized.”.

Today, research is still being carry out to try and unravel the intelligent mind of Einstein and the mystery behind Einstein’s brain will continue to intrigue researchers for generations to come.

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