The Loh Down On Science

Can we find clues to Albert Einstein's IQ by looking at his brain?

Men at al., BRAIN, 2013

Photographs of the left and right midsagittal sections of Einstein’s brain with original labels (Falk et al., 2013), reproduced here with permission from the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, MD. The red circles indicate two breaches on each hemisphere of Einstein’s corpus callosum that have different shapes, which may have been introduced when the two hemispheres were separated in 1955.

Einstein’s real secret to success?  Connections.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Meet anthropologist Dean Falk of Florida State University.  He worked with Chinese physicists on an unusual project involving ... Einstein’s brain!

After Albert Einstein’s death, his heirs allowed his brain to be preserved for research.

Falk and team were curious about Einstein's corpus callosum.  That’s the fiber bundle connecting our brains’ two hemispheres.  It’s the telephone line, so to speak, between the two halves.  The thicker the corpus callosum, the more nerves running between the two hemispheres.  So the better the connectedness.

No one had measured this part of Einstein’s brain before. 

The researchers worked with high-resolution photographs of Einstein’s brain.  Using software, they marked off 400 equidistant points on the corpus callosum, and calculated thickness between each point.  For comparison, they measured brains of young men, and of men who had died around the same age as Einstein.

Result? Einstein’s corpus callosum was thicker than the other men's!

But could he pat his head and rub his belly at the same time?  Even geniuses have limits.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


blog comments powered by Disqus