What made Einstein's brain cleverer than yours

Posted by Kate Taylor

Scientists have examined newly-discovered photographs of Albert Einstein's brain, and discovered several unusual features that they say may help explain his genius.

Einstein’s brain was photographed following his death in 1955, and sectioned into 240 celloidin-embedded blocks from which microscope slides were prepared. The great majority of the photographs, blocks, and slides remained unexamined and were lost from public sight for more than 55 years.

The team compared the 1955 photos with pictures of 85 brains from more ordinary people.

"Although Einstein's brain was of average weight (1230 grams), his cortical anatomy was extraordinary when compared with normal human brains," says ” said Frederick Lepore of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

"His exceptional brain anatomy does not begin to explain his towering intellect but our study of brain photographs 'lost' from public view for over half a century provides an exciting glimpse into the neural substrate of a genius."

Although the overall size and overall asymmetrical shape of Einstein’s brain were normal, the prefrontal, somatosensory, primary motor, parietal, temporal and occipital cortices were 'extraordinary', says the team, and may have provided the neurological underpinnings for his genius.

Most noticeable, they say, was the fact that the convolutions of Einstein's prefrontal cortex - important for abstract thinking - were much more complex than most, giving it a greater surface area.