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How Is Einstein's Brain Different from a Normal Brain?

Nobel Winning Physicist Albert Einstein.
Every human brain has both nerve cells and glial cells.
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  • Written By: Synthia L. Rose
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
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  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2014
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There are six main differences between German physicist Albert Einstein’s brain and those of ordinary human beings. First, Einstein had a greater number of glial brain cells to feed the neurons in his brain, suggesting the nerve cells in his brain needed more fueling cells because they consumed more nourishment as a result of higher brain activity. Secondly, at roughly 1,200 grams (2.64 pounds), Einstein’s brain weighed at least 200 grams (0.44 pounds) less than the average male brain for his time period. Thirdly, portions of Einstein’s brain, such as the cerebral cortex, were thinner, yet more saturated with neurons, than corresponding areas inside mainstream brains.

A fourth difference is that deep furrows, formally called sulci, sliced Einstein’s brain in the right parietal lobe and the left parietal lobe; these two areas are responsible for calculations and math aptitude. Also, Einstein’s brain had an unusually wide berth that was nearly 20-percent wider than the average human. The sixth and final difference was that a fragment of Einstein’s brain was missing; not only was his lateral sulcus, or Sylvian fissure, shorter than normal, but it was not whole.

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The abundance of glial cells in the mathematical genius has been the most researched anomaly within Einstein’s brain. Neurologists who have studied the high percentage of glial cells in the left and right sides of both the frontal lobe and the parietal lobe of Einstein’s brain theorize that this is evidence his brain consumed more energy than normal people. Every human brain is composed of both nerve cells and glial cells. While the nerve cells create synapses while synthesizing information, memory, language and learning processes, the glial cells are the assistant cells that provide energy for all the brain’s processes, including thinking and communicating.

Without glial cells, neurons could not function. Besides providing nutrition, glial cells insulate neurons and clean the brain of dead nerve cells. The increase in glial cells was located mostly on the left side of Einstein’s brain, which would correlate with his greater ability for left-brain logic and analysis.

The differences found in Einstein’s brain have been subject to controversy. Many critics chide that researchers only studied four small sections of the brain and not an extensive amount. Also, the brain was compared to an extremely small control group of less than a dozen people, limiting comparison. Furthermore, many of the subjects in the control group were at least two decades younger than Einstein, prompting critics to suggest his brain disparities might merely be linked to his age. The lack of comparison to other geniuses and innovators of Einstein’s caliber is also a drawback, critics claim.

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anon359809
Post 17

I've just been reading an article on this, and that information about the study of his brain, is not complete; there were further tests done, with more brains, both male and female. The IQ and other details of these people were also knows.

Oceana
Post 16

This information on Albert Einstein's brain puzzles me. I would have expected his brain to have been larger than that of the normal human. I would not have thought that a smaller brain could lead to more brain power, but I guess that maybe his was just super condensed.

anon245810
Post 15

But why is Einstein's brain different from others?

anon137872
Post 13

Normal! What is normal? An IQ test without any education is useless. And has no validity. Size, thickness, glial cells. You'll never figure it out. Too many variables.

anon129840
Post 12

The man was truly a super human.

anon127105
Post 11

That's cool. Weird too. Intriguing. So Einstein was in fact unique and special.

anon126259
Post 9

I liked his time theory the most. He was an extraordinary-minded man!

anon125571
Post 5

Higher IQ levels are less common, so it makes sense that his brain was structured differently than most. My Verbal IQ is 135, and my skull is smaller than average. Maybe this is normal in people of higher intelligence.

anon125410
Post 4

How do we know what a "normal" brain looks like unless we compile a larger sample of brains? No study is reliable unless we are comparing his brain to a more heterogeneous sample of people. For all we know, my cerebral cortex could be thin. And I ain't no Einstein.

anon125395
Post 3

They should have studied and compared his other organs too.

anon125319
Post 2

So from the structure of his brain it would appear that Einstein was not normal?

Umpire Oniac
Post 1

extra intelligence.

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