OUP user menu

The corpus callosum of Albert Einstein‘s brain: another clue to his high intelligence?

Weiwei Men, Dean Falk, Tao Sun, Weibo Chen, Jianqi Li, Dazhi Yin, Lili Zang, Mingxia Fan
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awt252 First published online: 24 September 2013

Sir, Albert Einstein was arguably the greatest physicist in the 20th century and his extraordinary intelligence has long intrigued both scientists and the general public. Despite several studies that focused mainly on the histological and morphological features of Einstein’s brain after his death, the substrates of Einstein’s genius are still a mystery (Diamond et al., 1985; Anderson and Harvey, 1996; Kigar et al., 1997; Hines, 1998; Witelson et al., 1999a, b; Colombo et al., 2006; Falk, 2009). Recently, Falk et al. (2013) analysed 14 newly discovered photographs and found that Einstein’s brain had an extraordinary prefrontal cortex, and that inferior portions of the primary somatosensory and motor cortices were greatly expanded in the left hemisphere. Among these 14 images were photographs of the left and right medial surface of Einstein’s brain, on which the corpus callosum was shown with great resolution and accuracy. The corpus callosum is the largest nerve fibre bundle that connects the cortical regions of the cerebral hemispheres in human brains and it plays an essential role in the integration of information transferred between the hemispheres over thousands of axons (Aboitiz et al., 1992). The two photographs of the medial surfaces of Einstein’s cerebral hemispheres provide the basis for the present study.

To examine whether there are regional callosal differences between the brain of Einstein and those of ordinary people, and to minimize potential differences in corpus callosum morphology due to cause of death, brain atrophy, age, and sex, in vivo MRI data sets from two different age groups were used. The high-resolution photographs of Einstein’s left and right hemispheres were supplied by Dean Falk with permission from the National Museum of Health and Medicine (Fig. 1). Because Einstein was right-handed and died at …