Well-connected hemispheres of Einstein's brain may have sparked his brilliance
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The left and right hemispheres of Albert Einstein's brain were unusually well
connected to each other and may have contributed to his brilliance, according
to a new study conducted in part by Florida State University evolutionary
anthropologist Dean Falk.
"This study, more than any other to date, really gets at the 'inside' of Einstein's brain,"
Falk said. "It provides new information that helps make sense of what is
known about the surface of Einstein's brain."
The study, "The Corpus Callosum of Albert Einstein's Brain: Another Clue to His High
Intelligence," was published in the journal Brain. Lead author
Weiwei Men of East China Normal University's Department of Physics developed a
new technique to conduct the study, which is the first to detail Einstein's
corpus callosum, the brain's largest bundle of fibers that connects the two
cerebral hemispheres and facilitates interhemispheric communication.
"This technique should be of interest to other researchers who study the brain's all-important
internal connectivity," Falk said.
Men's technique 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. For example, movement of the hands is represented toward the front
and mental arithmetic along the back.
In particular, this new technique permitted registration and comparison of Einstein's measurements
with those of two samples — one of 15 elderly men and one of 52 men Einstein's
age in 1905. During his so-called "miracle year" at 26 years old,
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 research team's findings show that Einstein had more extensive connections between certain
parts of his cerebral hemispheres compared to both younger and older control
The research of Einstein's corpus callosum was initiated by Men, who requested the
high-resolution photographs that Falk and other researchers published in 2012
of the inside surfaces of the two halves of Einstein's brain. In addition to
Men, the current research team included Falk, who served as second author; Tao
Sun of the Washington University School of Medicine; and, from East China
Normal University's Department of Physics, Weibo Chen, Jianqi Li, Dazhi Yin,
Lili Zang and Mingxia Fan.