Einstein'sBrain

Einstein'sBrain - DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL HISTORY Department...

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volume and IQ scores. 8 Further work is needed to reconcile these results with the inconsistent findings on brain weight in the earlier case reports. Brain volume and weight are not perfectly correlated, and imaging does not provide measures of brain weight. The case of Albert Einstein Resolving the neurobiological substrate of intelligence may be facilitated by the comparison of extreme cases with control groups within the framework of specific hypotheses. Albert Einstein is one of the intellectual giants of recorded history, and the preservation of his brain provides the possibility of an important case study. Since Einstein’s death, there has been no report of the gross anatomy of his brain. Here we present the first such study. Our investigation of Einstein’s brain was guided theoretically on the basis of current information of cortical localisation of cognitive functions. The generation and manipulation of three-dimensional spatial images and the mathematical representation of concepts would appear to be essential cognitive processes in the development of Einstein’s theory of r e l a t i v i t y . 9 Einstein’s own description of his scientific thinking was that “. . . words do not seem to play any role”, but there is “associative play” of “more or less clear images” of a “visual and muscular type”. 1 0 Visuospatial cognition, 1 1 , 1 2 mathematical ideation, 1 1 a n d imagery of movement 1 3 are mediated predominantly by right and left posterior parietal regions. We hypothesised that the parietal lobes in particular might show anatomical differences between Einstein’s brain and the brains of controls. Preservation of Einstein’s brain Einstein died from a ruptured aneurysm of the abdominal aorta in 1955 at the age of 76 years. His medical history has been well documented, and his biographies show that he was mentally adept to the end of his life. 9 Within 7 hours of death, his brain was removed at necropsy, fresh weight was measured, perfusion of 10% formalin by injection into the internal carotid arteries was carried out, and the whole brain was then freely suspended in 10% formalin for fixation and subsequent study. No significant neuropathology was seen on examination (gross or microscopic). After fixation, caliper measurements were made directly from the brain; calibrated photographs were taken of all views of the whole brain and of the dissected hemispheres; the cerebral hemispheres were cut into approximately 240 blocks, each about 10 cm 3 ; and the location of the blocks was recorded on photographs. The blocks were embedded in celloidin, and histological sections were m a d e . THE LANCET • Vol 353 • June 19, 1999 2149 In recent decades, there have been major advances in neuroscience at the behavioural and neural levels, but the long-standing issue of the neurobiological basis of variation in intelligence remains unresolved. 1
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Einstein'sBrain - DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL HISTORY Department...

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