|Photograph by Oren Jack Turner, Princeton, N.J. |
(The Library of Congress) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
In the article Einstein's Brain Unlocks Some Mysteries of the Mind, author Jon Hamilton discusses why we even have Einstein's brain available for study nearly 60 years after his death. It is thanks to Thomas Harvey, a pathologist who performed the autopsy on Einstein after his death. He stole Einstein's brain before this genius was cremated, and no one would learn about his theft until 10 years later. Harvey believed he could crack the code for why Einstein was a genius. Not being a neurologist, Harvey realized he couldn't find the answer without help. Storing it at one point in a Tupperware container, Harvey began sending slivers of Einstein’s brain to scientists who had the means to study it more thoroughly.
In the 1980s, Dr. Marian Diamond at the University of California, Berkeley, asked for samples from four areas of his brain. Harvey sent the pieces to her by mail in a mayonnaise jar. Unlike many of her peers who believed neurons to be the most essential working cells of the brain, Dr. Diamond’s research focused on the glial cell, which means glue. At the time, most believed these were just the glue holding the brain together. Now many believe they help feed the neurons and increase communication between them. What Diamond found in Einstein’s brain is a high concentration of glial cells in the tissue involved in image and complex thinking.
Could Einstein have been a better visualizer than most?
As Molly Edmunds points out in How Albert Einstein's Brain Worked, Dr. Diamond’s work came under criticism for her research process since glial cells continually divide during a person’s life. Plus, the subjects to which she compared Einstein's brain to weren’t on par with his age or of a high IQ score.
|Jimhutchins at en.wikipedia|
As Edmunds points out, this fact is very telling when you understand that Einstein credits his major discovery to visualization: Einstein "... figured out the theory of relativity by imagining a ride on a light beam through space ..." and "... saw his ideas in pictures and then found the language to describe them."
"Words do not seem to play any roles," Einstein said. "[There are] more or less clear images."
His nearly non-existent Sylvian fissure is the current theory on why Einstein was a genius—until someone can visualize another, better theory. Maybe that is what it will take to crack Einstein’s thought process. A scientist who is able to "see" the answer.
So don’t be afraid to use graphics or images of your ideas and solutions. People will think that you’re pretty smart, since you’ll be using the same methods as Einstein.