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Einstein’s Brain Was Different

During his lifetime and especially since his death, much has been discussed on the properties of Albert Einstein’s brain, the 20th century’s genius. Was it different from that of other men? A big lover of science, the interested party himself had insisted that his brain remain available for research after his death. This order was executed upon his death in Princeton on April 17, 1955.

Doctor Thomas Harvey, surgeon at Princeton Medical Center led the autopsy upon Einstein’s death and took great care in preserving the brain belonging to the winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize of Physics. He even went so far as making a preliminary analysis of the brain and only concluded that Einstein’s brain showed “normal” characteristics.

But several years ago, several Canadian academics who re-examined the brain – carefully preserved in Princeton since 1955 – discovered that the subject’s parietal lobes were 15% larger than that of an ordinary brain. This area is known “to shelter” visual recognition and mathematical thinking. Therefore Einstein was apparently equipped with a better degree of reasoning than the majority. In most brains, the Sylvian fissure, a groove that runs along both sides of the human brain from front to back, divides the area that deals with mathematical reasoning from the area that deals with visual and spatial connections. But in Einstein’s brain, that division doesn’t exist.

In 1999, Professor Sandra Witelson and her team obtained Dr. Harvey’s authorization for a new examination. She noted that Einstein’s brain’s overall weight and volume was identical to those of a man of the same age. However if the lower parietal area were indeed larger than normal, this zone presented another characteristic: the absence of the fissure.

Upon completing her work, Sandra Witelson formulated an assumption. The absence of the fissure in Einstein’s brain may give an explanation to this incomparable genius’ capacities. This anatomical singularity could have made it possible for Albert Einstein to develop more neurons than a man with a “normal” brain.

In addition, the professor specified that this missing fissure “had probably not disappeared”, narrowing with time as Einstein’s intelligence developed. Indeed, it is one of the parts of the human brain which appears earliest in life. Einstein’s Sylvian fissure (of the parietal lobe) probably never developed.

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