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The cerebral cortex of Albert Einstein: a description and preliminary analysis of unpublished photographs

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Journal Article - Open Access

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National Museum of Health and Medicine, USAMRMC Silver Spring United States

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Upon his death in 1955, Albert Einsteins 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 Einsteins 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 Einsteins 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 Einsteins 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. Einsteins brain has an extraordinary prefrontal cortex, which may have contributed to the neurological substrates forsome 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. Einsteins parietal lobes are also unusual and may have provided some of the neurological underpinnings for his visuospatial and mathematical skills, as others have hypothesized. Einsteins brain has typical frontal and occipital shape asymmetries petalias and grossly asymmetrical inferior and superior parietal lobules. Contrary to the literature, Einsteins brain is not spherical, does not lack parietal opercula and has non-confluent Sylvian and inferior postcentral sulci.

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  • Anatomy and Physiology

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