Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dissecting Einstein's brain

A SciAm blog reports:
Now a new study in Brain, based on the most comprehensive collection of post-mortem images compiled to date, shows that Einstein’s cerebral cortex, responsible for higher-level mental processes, differs much more dramatically than previously thought from that of your Everyman of average intelligence. The paper, in fact, publishes for the first time the “road map” to the father of relativity’s brain, photographs that image 240 blocks of dissected tissue from the autopsy performed at the University of Pennsylvania by Thomas Harvey. ...

Were there other things that were also unusual?

One of the most interesting things about Einstein’s brain has to do with his sensory and motor cortices. We found an unusual region lower down in the motor cortex that processes information from the face and tongue and laryngeal apparatus. ...

Do you think this has anything to do with that famous photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out?

I’ve been asked that four times in the last three days. The first time the question caught me by surprise and I said I thought it was just a coincidence. Then I got to thinking about it and went to a mirror to see whether I could get my tongue out as far as Einstein had, and I came pretty close. So I think that wonderful photograph was probably Einstein just being spontaneous and impetuous.
This is silly. The comparison should be to other physicists, and I doubt that anyone would find anything unusual. I would be more interested in studying the brains of people with unusual talents, such as calculating prodigies.

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