What Scientist’s Learned by Studying Einstein’s Brain

The genius' brain had more astrocytes than average gray matter.

August 8, 2017 5:00 am
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein. The famous "God Letter" Einstein penned will be sold later this fall. (ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Einstein had a unique brain to go along with his genius IQ.

A study of the mathematician’s brain revealed his gray matter was exceptional, but not in the way scientists were expecting. His brain didn’t have a greater abundance of neurons, but it did have more astrocytes, another type of brain cell.

When American scientist Marian Diamond studied Einstein cerebral matter in 1985, she found more astrocytes in the left inferior parietal area of the brain, a part that’s associated with math skills. At the time, Inc reports this finding was largely ignored. But, it’s a significant discovery that’s been contextualized with research later in history.

Later, research found that astrocytes are a crucial determinant in human intelligence. It’s one of two parts that form to create a synapse, where brain cells meet to transmit information. A greater abundance of astrocytes is associated improved cognitive function later in life as well high intelligence overall, according to Inc.

Diamond, who became passed way last week, continued to research neurology at University of California, Berkeley. Inc reports she found five factors that helped produce healthy astrocytes: a good diet, exercise, challenge, novelty, and love.

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