Thursday, April 30, 2009

Features of Einstein's brain.

Clips from Michael Balter's recent report:
The first anatomical study of Einstein's brain was published in 1999, by a team led by Sandra Witelson, a neurobiologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada..Witelson's team found that Einstein's parietal lobes--which are implicated in mathematical, visual, and spatial cognition--were 15% wider than normal parietal lobes...One parameter that did not explain Einstein's mental prowess, however, was the size of his brain: At 1230 grams, it fell at the low end of average for modern humans. Now Dean Falk, an anthropologist at Florida State University in to have identified a number of previously unrecognized unusual features in Einstein's brain. They include a pronounced knoblike structure in the part of the motor cortex that controls the left hand; in other studies, similar "knobs" have been associated with musical ability. (Einstein had played the violin avidly since childhood.)

Like Witelson's team, Falk found that Einstein's parietal lobes were larger; comparing the photographs of Einstein's brain with a second previously published set of 58 control brains, Falk also identified a very rare pattern of grooves and ridges in the parietal regions of both sides of the brain that she speculates might somehow be related to Einstein's superior ability to conceptualize physics problems. Indeed, during his lifetime, Einstein often claimed that he thought in images and sensations rather than in words. Falk speculates that Einstein's talent as "a synthetic thinker" may have arisen from the unusual anatomy of his parietal cortex.

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