Re: Gender importance/The differences article

J. R. Molloy (
Sat, 24 Apr 1999 20:38:26 -0700

From: Gina Miller <>
>Do you know where his brain is kept? Or where to look online about it?
>I've tried thru the search engines but couldn't come up with
>anything.(Einsteins brain)

Uh-oh... perhaps this borders on urban legend.

From: In 1955, the great scientist Albert Einstein died in Princeton - his express wish was that his body be cremated, so as to leave no earthly remains. But, on the day of his death, his brain was secretly removed by doctors at Princeton Hospital - supposedly for "scientific study." Nearly 40 years later, no study is complete, and there are only rumors as to whereabouts of the missing brain. . . . This film follows the quest of an Einstein expert, Professor Sugimoto Kenji, who travelled from his home in Japan to the USA to try and find the greatest relic of 20th century science.

From: So whatever became of one of the most famous brains of this century? Well, when Einstein died in 1955, a doctor removed the famous physicist's brain for further study. The rest of him was cremated. Legend has it that the brain was abnormally small. Some said it was the size of a walnut.

Where is it now? One source claims that Einstein's brain is somewhere floating in a bottle in Weston, Missouri. Carl Sagan claims that it's in another bottle in Witchita. Perhaps Elvis has had it all along...

From: What Became of Albert Einstein's Brain?

On April 18, 1955, the great mathematician and physicist Albert Einstein died. He was 76 yrs. old. Einstein had requested that his body be cremated but that his brain be saved and studied for research. Dr. Thomas S. Harvey, a pathologist at Princeton Hospital, removed Einstein’s brain. What happened to the brain for years after this is somewhat of a mystery.

In the mid 1970s, Steven Levy, a reporter for the New Jersey Monthly, hopped into his car and set out to find Einstein’s brain. Mr. Levy published his story in 1978 and part of ~it can be found on the Internet <>. Mr. Levy discovered that Einstein’s brain was still with Dr. Harvey who was now in Wichita, Kansas. The brain was in two mason jars in a cardboard box that was marked with the words "Costa Cider". Most of the brain, except for the cerebellum and parts of the cerebral cortex, had been sectioned (sliced).

The Paper There are two published scientific studies that have examined Einstein’s brain. One paper, titled "On the Brain of a Scientist: Albert Einstein" was published in 1985 in the journal Experimental Neurology (vol. 88, pages 198-204, 1985) and written by Marian C. Diamond <,MC.html>, Arnold B. Scheibel, Greer M. Murphy and ...Thomas Harvey! These scientists counted the number of ~neurons (nerve cells) <> and ~glial cells <> in 4 areas of Einstein’s brain: area 9 of the cerebral cortex on the right and left hemisphere and area 39 of the cerebral cortex on the right and left hemisphere. Area 9 is located in the frontal lobe (prefrontal cortex) and is thought to be important for planning behavior, attention and memory. Area 39 is located in the parietal lobe and is part of the "association cortex". Area 39 is thought to be involved with language and several other complex functions. The ratios of neurons to glial cells in Einstein’s brain were compared to those from the brains of 11 men who died at the average age of 64.
Approximate location of cortical area 9 and area 39

The Data Compared to the brains of the 11 normal men, the ratios of neurons to glial cells in Einstein’s brain were smaller in all 4 areas studied. However, when the numbers were examined more closely with statistics, only 1 area showed a difference - the ratio in the left area 39. So in the left area 39, Einstein’s brain had fewer neurons to glial cells than the normal brains. In other words, there were more glial cells for every neuron in Einstein’s brain.

The Conclusion The authors concluded that the greater number of glial cells per neuron might indicate the neurons in Einstein’s brain had an increased "metabolic need" - they needed and used more energy. In this way, perhaps Einstein had better thinking abilities and conceptual skills.

The Problems Scientists are trained to read published papers carefully and to evaluate the methods, results and conclusions of experiments. While it is intriguing to use the results of this paper as an indication that Einstein’s genius was related to a particular brain region, it is perhaps a bit too early for such a statement. First, the "normal" brains that were compared to Einstein’s may not have been the best group for comparison. The average age of these brains was 12 years younger than Einstein’s brain. In fact, the youngest brain in this group was only 47 yrs. old. It is possible that the neuron to glial ratio seen in Einstein’s brain was quite normal for his age and that the younger comparison group just did not show these changes yet. Also, the paper did not describe the background of the comparison group. What was their intelligence and cause of death? Would these factors have anything to do with the observed brain differences? Second, the "experimental group" had only 1 subject...Einstein! Additional studies are needed to see if these anatomical differences are found in other people with conceptual and mathematical skills like Einstein. Third, it appears that only a very small portion of the 4 areas of each brain was studied. The paper states that "Four to six sections were cut from each block, Einstein’s and the controls’." However, after staining, only ONE section from each block was studied! There is no indication that this single thin section was obtained from similar regions of area 39 and area 9 from the different brains. It is even unclear how much of each section was counted. Moreover, only the ratio of neurons to glial cells are published. The total number of cells that were counted is not given in the paper. This is important to get an idea of how the experimenters came to their conclusions. It is important to remember that the areas 9 and 39 make important connections with many other areas of the brain. To assign a particular behavior or personality to a single brain area is too simple. Parts of the brain do not act by themselves. Rather, complex behavior is the result of many areas acting together.

A Second Paper and The Future A second paper describing Einstein's brain was published in 1996. Einstein's brain weighed only 1,230 grams which is far less than the average adult male brain (about 1,400 grams). The authors also reported that the thickness of Einstein's cerebral cortex (area 9) was thinner than that of five control brains. However, the DENSITY of neurons in Einstein's brain was greater. In other words, Einstein was able to pack more neurons in a given area of cortex. The importance of these differences is still unknown. There are still many questions about how the brain constructs personality, builds intelligence and forms creativity. Perhaps future studies of the brains of other geniuses will reveal what makes these people such giants.


Albert Einstein's brain has been considered a museum exhibition. Physiologists saw his brain as the most unusual piece of body tissue of one's body because of its outstanding work. They wondered, what was so different in his brain that made Einstein as the best contributor to twentieth century physics. What was the mythical value of his brain that grabbed so much attentions.

>From one example about testing Einstein's brain capacity in order to measure
his intelligence, physiologists asked him to think of the theory of relativity. However the test failed the physiologists. His brain was not different from other people. Nevertheless, physiologists did not give up easily. They firmly believed that inside of his brain cells was the inspiration to his achievements. Friedman and Donley wrote in their book, Einstein As Myth And Muse, "the mythology of Einstein shows him as a genius so lacking in magic that one speaks about his thoughts as of a functional labour analogous to the mechanical making of sausages, the grinding of corn or the crushing of ore: he used to produce thoughts."(6)

Einstein's brain was the machine that produced equations and formulas. From those equations and formulas, he made inventions that advanced our lives. We still believe that Einstein's brain was a mythological object of the twentieth century even though physiologists failed to give us a strong proof.

"Reality resides in the eye of the unbeliever." --Gustaf Puchipoopoo


--J. R.