Brain Byte: What Enstein’s Brain Has to Do with Yours!

Einstein multicolor

Princeton Hospital Pathologist Dr. Thomas Harvey was on duty in 1955 when Einstein died.  Dr. Harvey performed Einstein’s autopsy and removed his brain, for which he studied for the next 40 years.  His goal was to uncover the secret of Einstein’s genius. He told a reporter, “nobody had ever found a difference that earmarked a brain as that of a genius.”  Dr. Harvey did not find any significant differences, but one of his colleagues did.

Neuroanatomist at the U of California at Berkeley, Marian Diamond announced an amazing discovery after examining Einstein’s preserved brain in the early 1980s.  She found an increased number of glial cells in Einstein’s left parietal lobe, a kind of neurological switching station that Diamond described as an “association area for other association areas in the brain.”  Glial cells act as a glue holding the other nerve cells together and also help transfer electrochemical signals between neurons. Diamond expected them, because of the high concentrations of glial cells in the brains of her enriched rats.  Their presence in Einstein’s brain suggested that a similar enrichment process was at work.

Diamond devoted her career to creating genius in the lab.  One of her notable experiments placed rats in a super-stimulating environment, complete with swings, ladders, treadmills, and toys of all kinds.  The control rats were kept in bare cages.  The rats who lived in the enriched environment lived longer and their brains increased in size, sprouting forests of new connections between nerve cells in the form of dendrites and axons.  The rats in bare cages died younger and their brains had fewer cellular connections.

Remarkably, as far back as 1911, Santiago Ramon y Cajal, the father of neuroanatomy, had found that the number of interconnections between neurons (also called synapses) was the real measure of genius, far more crucial in determining brainpower than the sheer number of neurons.  Diamond’s experiments showed that genius could be created through mental exercise!

Take away:  It is possible to create genius by providing sufficient stimulating mental exercise, therefore in my opinion, giving nearly equal opportunity to all brains.

So the question we ask ourselves is:

Do I want to become smarter?  If so, am I willing to put in the additional efforts required?

You are smart!  It is up to you to discover your genius and put it to good use.

Information provided in The Einstein Factor, A Proven New Method for Increasing Your Intelligence by Win Wenger, Ph.D. and Richard Poe (pages 8-9).


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