Einstein's Brilliance Explained by Unusually Well Connected Brain Hemispheres

First Posted: Oct 07, 2013 08:16 AM EDT

Albert Einstein had one of the most brilliant minds of his time. But what made this man such a genius? It turns out that it all had to do with the connections in his brain. Scientists have discovered that the left and right hemispheres of his brain were unusually well connected, which may have contributed to his brilliance.

In order to examine the reason behind Einstein's genius, the researchers developed a new technique to conduct the study, which is the first to detail Einstein's corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is the brain's largest bundle of fibers that connects the two cerebral hemispheres and facilitates interhemispheric communication.

So what was this new technique? It measures and color-codes the varying thicknesses of subdivisions of the corpus callosum along its length, where nerves cross from one side of the brain to the other. These thicknesses indicate the number of nerves that cross and therefore how "connected" the two sides of the brain are in particular regions, which facilitate different functions depending on where the fibers cross along the length. More specifically, this method permitted registration and comparison of Einstein's brain measurements with those of two samples.

"This study, more than any other to date, really gets at the 'inside' of Einstein's brain," said Dean Falk, one of the researchers, in a news release. "It provides new information that helps make sense of what is known about the surface of Einstein's brain. This technique should be of interest to other researchers who study the brain's all-important internal connectivity."

It turns out that Einstein had more extensive connections between certain parts of his cerebral hemispheres compared to both younger and older control groups. This, in particular, could explain Einstein's brilliance. During his so-called "miracle year" at 26 years old, for example, Einstein published four articles that contributed substantially to the foundation of modern physics and changed the world's views about space, time, mass and energy.

The findings reveal a little bit more about how the brain works and, in particular, show how Einstein was so intelligent. The findings could have implications for future studies which could use the same method in order to better understand how the brain functions.

The findings are published in the journal Brain.

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