The first formal study to take a look at the entire cerebral cortex of Albert Einstein's brain has revealed some interesting clues about the scientist's extraordinary cognitive abilities. Florida State University researchers examined 14 recently rediscovered photographs and compared them to 85 "normal" human brains — and not surprisingly, they noticed some marked differences.

Soon after Einstein's death in 1955, his brain was removed and photographed from multiple and unconventional angles. It was also sectioned into 240 blocks from which many slides were created.

Unfortunately, however, many of these blocks and slides were lost from public sight for over half a century. But their recent rediscovery has allowed neuroscientists to take a closer look, and to analyze them in consideration of the latest functional imaging technologies.


What the researchers found was that Einstein's brain had some definite morphological differences. While the overall size and asymmetrical shape of his brain was normal, the prefrontal, somatosensory, primary motor, parietal, temporal and occipital cortices were "extraordinary," in the words of the researchers.

The neuroscientists, a team led by Dean Falk, suspect that these anomalies may have endowed Einstein with his visuospatial and mathematical abilities. It may also explain his uncanny predilection for thought experiments.


Along with Falk, the study was conducted by Frederick E. Lepore of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Adrianne Noe, director of the National Museum of Health and Medicine. The entire study can be found at the journal, Brain.

Images via Florida State University.