Brain Facts

Brain Facts

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Einstein Under the Microscope

Society seems to view Einstein as if he knew some kind of secret that the rest of us did not.  Many have said that even if we knew his technique we still would not become Einsteins.  Some scientific studies of Einstein's brain have been performed in an effort to prove that the this statement is, in fact, true.  Cardoso's 1997 editorial discusses the research that Marian Diamond, a professor from Berkley, did on Einstein's brain.

             The group concluded that the greater number of glial cells 'oligodendroglia'-- helper cells that speed neaural communication-- per neuron might indicate the neurons in Einstein's brain had an increased  "metabolic need" - they needed and used more energy.  In this way, perhaps Einstein had better thinking abilities and conceptual skills. (Cardoso, 1997).

Cardoso's (1997) editorial goes on to discuss other findings relating to the anatomy of Einstein's brain.  The Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University compared Einstein's brain to others and found that it was 15% wider  than other brains that were studied.  The researcher's noted that, "Visuospatial cognition, mathematical thought, and imagery of movement are strongly dependent on this region."  The researchers thought that this may attribute to why Einstein solved problems the way that he did.  Furthermore, in this same area "Einstein's brain was unique in that it did not have a groove, called a sulcus, that normally runs through" part of the area (Cardoso, 1997).  Wang (2000) commented about this finding in his article, as well, saying that it was a unique feature "that may have allowed the brain's neurons to connect more effectively with each other."  Despite these findings we have yet to research others to see if there is any correlation between these characteristics and brilliant minds.  Wang (2000) brings up a good point in asking, " What [did] we really hope to find?"  He also points out that Einstein's brain was no bigger than normal and that it was in fact smaller than average.  As mentioned before, most of the research regarding genius lacks credibility.  This includes these findings because they do not mean much unless others like them are discovered.  Cordoso (1997) suggests that modern technology, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), will enable scientists to study brain activity more accurately to arrive more firm and meaningful conclusions.  Until then Einstein's "secret" and others remain elusive.

Einstein, arguably one of the most brilliant minds, does not bring us any closer to understanding his intellect or others.  The majority of people do not even understand the concepts that made him famous, let alone possess the ability to dissect his thought processes, but even so psychologists continue their efforts.

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