The cerebral cortex of Albert Einstein: a description and preliminary analysis of unpublished photographs
Dean Falk1,2, Frederick E. Lepore3,4 and Adrianne Noe5
1 Department of Anthropology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-7772, USA
2 School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, NM 87505, USA
3 Department of Neurology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA
4 Department of Ophthalmology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA
5 National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
Correspondence to: Dean Falk, School for Advanced Research, 660 Garcia Street, Santa Fe, NM 87505, USA E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Received June 12, 2012.
Revision received August 21, 2012.
Accepted August 17, 2012.
Upon his death in 1955, Albert Einstein’s brain was removed, fixed and photographed from multiple angles. It was then sectioned into 240 blocks, and histological slides were prepared. At the time, a roadmap was drawn that illustrates the location within the brain of each block and its associated slides. Here we describe the external gross neuroanatomy of Einstein’s entire cerebral cortex from 14 recently discovered photographs, most of which were taken from unconventional angles. Two of the photographs reveal sulcal patterns of the medial surfaces of the hemispheres, and another shows the neuroanatomy of the right (exposed) insula. Most of Einstein’s sulci are identified, and sulcal patterns in various parts of the brain are compared with those of 85 human brains that have been described in the literature. To the extent currently possible, unusual features of Einstein’s brain are tentatively interpreted in light of what is known about the evolution of higher cognitive processes in humans. As an aid to future investigators, these (and other) features are correlated with blocks on the roadmap (and therefore histological slides). Einstein’s brain has an extraordinary prefrontal cortex, which may have contributed to the neurological substrates for some of his remarkable cognitive abilities. The primary somatosensory and motor cortices near the regions that typically represent face and tongue are greatly expanded in the left hemisphere. Einstein’s parietal lobes are also unusual and may have provided some of the neurological underpinnings for his visuospatial and mathematical skills, as others have hypothesized. Einstein’s brain has typical frontal and occipital shape asymmetries (petalias) and grossly asymmetrical inferior and superior parietal lobules. Contrary to the literature, Einstein’s brain is not spherical, does not lack parietal opercula and has non-confluent Sylvian and inferior postcentral sulci.
Albert Einstein Broca’s area parietal lobules inferior third frontal gyrus prefrontal cortex
© The Author(s) 2012. Published by Oxford University Press.
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