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Einstein’s Brilliant Connections

Remarkably thick connections between Albert Einstein's left and right brain hemispheres offer one possible explanation of his intelligence.

By | October 7, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, FERDINAND SCHMUTZERThe corpus callosum is a large bundle of nerve fibers that bridges the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Researchers report in the journal Brain that the famous physicist Albert Einstein had an especially thick corpus callosum. "This study, more than any other to date, really gets at the 'inside' of Einstein’s brain," Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk said in a press release. "It provides new information that helps make sense of what is known about the surface of Einstein's brain."

Falk and her colleagues looked at photographs of Einstein's brain kept at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, MD. They compared measurements of Einstein's corpus callosum to MRI data sets from 67 right handed men—15 of whom were in their 70s along with 52 20-somethings. For the vast majority of the measurements, Einstein's corpus callosum was larger than the average size of the others'.

In a previous study, Falk's group found that Einstein’s brain also had more folds in the prefrontal cortex, a region considered important for abstract thought. It's not entirely clear what it means to have a larger corpus callosum, but the authors have an idea. "The results of our study suggest that Einstein's intellectual gifts were not only related to specializations of cortical folding and cytoarchitecture in certain brain regions, but also involved coordinated communication between the cerebral hemispheres," they wrote in their report.


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