Where is Albert Einstein’s Brain?

Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientists to have ever lived. His name is still renowned today, and he is arguably the most famous scientist of all time. This is evident by the amount of memorabilia sold with his likeness, and quotes attributed to him, as well as the numerous books and films created in his honor. But did you know that part of Albert Einstein is still alive, in a way? His brain has survived his death in 1955 and has gone on many adventures. Let’s take a look at the journey of Albert Einstein’s brain.

A Peek into Albert Einstein’s Brain

Albert Einstein was a man of many talents, and his brain was no exception. As some of the most powerful brain ever to have lived, it had distinctive characteristics – literally. Scans of the brain revealed an unusual and highly folded outer cortex, which provides for many more neurons processing information at once. It was also found to have more glial neurons than the average human brain. Most likely due to the tremendous amount of energy Einstein’s brain exerted in its active years, his brain did not shrink with age – something typically seen in the brains of seniors.

Albert Einstein’s Death

In his later years, Einstein’s health took a turn. He died in April 1955 of an abdominal aortic aneurysm at the age of 76. The world mourned the death of a beloved figure, and a group of physicians famously preserved Einstein’s brain. At the time, the practice of preserving parts of the body upon death was not allowed in New Jersey, where the body was later moved. As such, the brain was removed and kept by pathologist Thomas Harvey in Pennsylvania. This decision was made without the consent of Einstein’s family.

Where is Albert Einstein’s Brain Now?

After Harvey removed Einstein’s brain, he proceeded to conduct numerous studies and analysis on it before eventually cutting it into 220 blocks for easy preservation and partitioning. Of the 220 blocks, 180 were given away to various researchers for various purposes. While Dr. Harvey seemed to be doing this in the spirit of helping further science, the fact that he didn’t have permission from the family still raised some ethical concerns.

Where Are Einstein’s Brain Blocks Located?

The 180 brain blocks belonging to Einstein are located in various places around the world. In the United States, 20 blocks are stored at Pacific Neuroscience Institute in California, while 7 blocks are stored at Yale University. Internationally, 12 blocks reside at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Arizona, 3 blocks at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, and 2 blocks at the Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel. It is not known where exactly the remaining blocks are kept, but it is believed that some reside in museums and laboratories in Mexico, France, and Australia.

What Research Was Conducted on Albert Einstein’s Brain?

The samples of Albert Einstein’s brain that remain today have been studied across the world. Initially, researchers studied the physical composition of the brain, and found that Einstein’s prefrontal cortex was 15 percent wider than the average brain, indicating his analytical and mathematical genius. The primary motor cortex, which controls body movement, was also thicker, indicating Einstein’s coordinated, graceful hands. Additionally, the parietal operculum and superior parietal lobule were sharp, indicating high levels of insight, intuition, and imagination.

More recent studies, conducted in 2013 and 2019, have identified two genes that contribute to intelligence, and both were found to be more abundant in Albert Einstein’s brain than the average brain. The findings of this research show that Einstein’s extraordinary intelligence was due to an atypical combination of certain inherited genetic factors, as well as possibly his environment.

How Can We Preserve Einstein’s Legacy?

More recently, an effort has been made to preserve and honor Albert Einstein’s life and work. To this end, a museum, the Einstein Archives, was built in 1980 and houses nearly 50,000 documents and letters belonging to Einstein. Additionally, a museum and memorial is installed on the site of his former residence in Princeton, New Jersey. And of course, the small portion of Einstein’s brain still remaining today holds much educational and historical value.

Albert Einstein’s brain remains alive even today, stored and studied in various places around the world. Recent research conducted on the brain reveals some of the secrets of Einstein’s genius. Additionally, efforts have been made to honor his legacy, both through the construction of museums, and the preservation of his brain samples. While the amount of brain preserved today is small, the teachings and knowledge it holds are vast.