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Newly Released Einstein Brain Photos Hint At the Anatomy of Genius

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the more-loops-more-whorls dept.

Science 130

scibri writes "Photographs of Einstein's brain taken shortly after his death, but never before analysed in detail, have now revealed that it had several unusual features, providing tantalizing clues about the neural basis of his extraordinary mental abilities. The most striking observation was 'the complexity and pattern of convolutions on certain parts of Einstein's cerebral cortex,' especially in the prefrontal cortex, and also parietal lobes and visual cortex. The prefrontal cortex is important for the kind of abstract thinking that Einstein would have needed for his famous thought experiments on the nature of space and time, such as imagining riding alongside a beam of light. The unusually complex pattern of convolutions there probably gave the region a larger-than-normal surface area, which may have contributed to his remarkable abilities."

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Stop deifying this guy (4, Insightful)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42013381)

Seriously.
He was just a scientist among many others.

Re: Stop deifying this guy (1)

Dupple (1016592) | about 2 years ago | (#42013441)

Might also explain his obstanance regarding the cosmological constant which he didn't abandon until observing red shif. Might not. I'm uncertain...

Re: Stop deifying this guy (4, Interesting)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | about 2 years ago | (#42014005)

cosmological constant which he didn't abandon
Maybe this is because Einstein studied equations, he needed that constant so the model would hold mathematically, his discoveries might have been simply observations he saw in those formulas, you can move and swap variables left right in the energy equations to get exciting and unexpected relationships that involve time, mass velocity and energy.

Re: Stop deifying this guy (5, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#42014171)

Might also explain his obstanance regarding the cosmological constant which he didn't abandon until observing red shif. Might not. I'm uncertain...

Keep in mind that when he introduced the cosmological constant everyone still thought that our galaxy was the only thing in the universe. Hubble figured out that that was wrong about a decade later (and half a decade before noting the correlation between red shift and distance).

Re: Stop deifying this guy (1)

Dupple (1016592) | about 2 years ago | (#42014677)

Thanks Muon and Black. That's some insightful stuff I hadn't fully considered. Sadly no mod points

Re: Stop deifying this guy (1)

Xacid (560407) | about 2 years ago | (#42016605)

Never heard this before but not refuting it. Was it really the hubble that changed that perspective?

Re: Stop deifying this guy (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42016837)

Yes, "The Hubble". Edwin Hubble to be precise. His discoveries were so important that even decades after his death, NASA named a space telescope after him.

Re: Stop deifying this guy (1)

Xacid (560407) | about 2 years ago | (#42017249)

Awesome, thanks a bunch. Also thanks for not being a jerk in regards to my ignorance. There's hope yet! :)

Re:Stop deifying this guy (5, Insightful)

martijn hoekstra (1046898) | about 2 years ago | (#42013533)

Seriously. He was just a scientist among many others.

It is entirely possible that special relativity would have been formulated by someone else - with the problems with EM speed of light and reference frames, it could be said to have been in the air, so to say. That also goes for the photo-electric effect. General relativity was something else though, it was new, it was brilliant, and it completely shifted the way we think about the universe. He might not have been as great as Newton, but he's up there with the Very Select Few.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (3, Insightful)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#42013567)

How is noticing he was rather smart deifying him? Personally, I never fully understood any of the stuff in his actual field of work, but always rather enjoyed stuff like letters or essays he wrote. I would never have heard of those however if he hadn't also been such a famous physicist. So I'm not sure what's there to moan about.. what's your angle? That nobody will bother to take a photo of your brain when you die?

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42013665)

Studying is brain is being used to define traits that make humans smart.
How is that anything short of deification?

Re:Stop deifying this guy (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42013827)

Studying is brain is being used to define traits that make humans smart.
How is that anything short of deification?

No, it's the opposite of that. We're trying to figure out why he could make leaps others couldn't... there's nothing mystical about it. If we had other similarly interesting brains we'd study them too.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (1, Insightful)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 2 years ago | (#42014491)

Studying is brain is being used to define traits that make humans smart.
How is that anything short of deification?

No, it's the opposite of that. We're trying to figure out why he could make leaps others couldn't... there's nothing mystical about it. If we had other similarly interesting brains we'd study them too.

That's the point. Others have similar capabilities, Einstein is being picked pretty randomly. Yes he was the one to discover general relativity, but if he hadn't someone else (or a couple of people) would have done it, perhaps more gradually. It would be better to select a group of the wisest or most intelligent beings and investigate them, rather than hunt peculiarities of cerebral geometries, even then I would question the usefulness of the study.

It's like investigating Neil Armstrongs feet.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42014545)

No, it's the opposite of that. We're trying to figure out why he could make leaps others couldn't... there's nothing mystical about it. If we had other similarly interesting brains we'd study them too.

That's the point. Others have similar capabilities, Einstein is being picked pretty randomly

No, you don't get to say "that's the point" while you're missing the point. Einstein was a genius and we have information about his brain. If any other geniuses want to donate their brains I'm sure we'll want to look at those too. Sadly, no one will ever be interested in yours on that basis.

It's like investigating Neil Armstrongs feet.

O fuck, I have been trolled. That, or I've been wasting my time talking to someone about as intelligent as an Elizabot.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42015009)

It's like investigating Neil Armstrongs feet.

O fuck, I have been trolled. That, or I've been wasting my time talking to someone about as intelligent as an Elizabot.

No you're not; Neil Armstrongs feet refers to not looking at the entire picture. Ofcourse geometry goes a long way, but what about neuroplasticity? Environmental factors, other science, etc.

I still think that relativity, is relative, but that's an entirely different topic*.

* Holographic information storage in two dimensions and multi-dimensional folding, yada yada yada

Re:Stop deifying this guy (1, Troll)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42015041)

No you're not; Neil Armstrongs feet refers to not looking at the entire picture

Thinking is done primarily with the brain, confirmed by scan. Walking is not done primarily with the feet. Paralyzed from the neck down, brain still works. Paralyzed from the feet up, can't walk. Keep trying, you'll get it never.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42015479)

LOL, oh god. I don't even know where to begin... you realize that nobody in their right mind (except you, apparently) thinks that einstein's brain is the complete picture. It's just one piece we happen to have access to. If we had Isaac Newton's brain, would it be worthless to study? We already know that some very smart people (e.g. Kim Peek) have had abnormal brain structures. For einstein, even though the sample size is n=1, it's incredibly interesting to know the ways in which his brain is different. Basically, I don't get your point. Are you claiming that finding a significant structural difference between einstein and the general population is NOT interesting? That it had NO effect on his thinking? Sure, genius might express itself in different ways, but here is one way that is available for study. LOL

Metonymy. Conflation. (4, Interesting)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#42016195)

Compare Windows 8 running on an ARM processor tablet to MacOS 8 running on a Powerbook G3 laptop by comparing their visual display of the operating system. Now try to compare a transmission-electron microscope image of the ARM chip vs the PowerPC G3 chip.

Hell, to equalize things a bit, compare Basilisk running on an AMDx64 chip running a Linux OS vs Basilisk running on an Intel Core i7 with Windows OS (pick your flavor) vs MacOS 7 running on a 68040-bare-hardware Mac IIci. Now run the same program on the emulated MacOS. What does looking at the hardware traces and the PNP-transistors vs NPN-transistors vs. the amount of area used for level I vs level II cache tell you?

Hells bells, now run Linux debian on three chips: AMD, Intel, ARM, get into a terminal and watch what it does. Does the underlying hardware matter as much as what is running on it?

Sometimes, looking at the bare metal will tell you nothing at all about what the system does or is capable of when it is "alive" with electrons running through it and with a particular program in its memory.

I bet the brain is like that. Looking at the specific brain might tell you very little of the "mind" that ran on it when the neurons' chemical and electrical activities created the physiological system that was Einstein's mind.
:>)
  That is what makes this analysis like phrenology:
  - conflating the mind with the brain;
  - conflating the body with the person that lived in it / inhabited it;
  - conflating the running simulation for the architecture and hardware upon which the simulation is running;
  - conflating the hardware with the running software program; ;
    - conflating the container for the thing contained ::
  Metonymy

Smartest thing said here (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | about 2 years ago | (#42016515)

Your analogy regarding the "bare metal" is the most sensible observation offered on this thread.

Re:Metonymy. Conflation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42017845)

Except the brain is what generates the mind, it is not a general purpose computing device.

It would be more like examining a chip and recognizing it as a graphics or sound processor.

Features of the brain define features of the mind.

Re:Metonymy. Conflation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42018153)

It is almost certainly a general purpose computing device in the sense that it's Turing-complete and can thus simulate any other Turing-complete device (in principle) and possibly be simulated by any other Turing-complete device. Other distinctions of "general purpose" are much less clear cut.

Re:Metonymy. Conflation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42018197)

I bet the brain is like that. Looking at the specific brain might tell you very little of the "mind" that ran on it when the neurons' chemical and electrical activities created the physiological system that was Einstein's mind.

uh..I bet it isn't..because it isn't. You may or may not have heard of neural networks. Until you find a computer that's completely run by neural networks, and organized with all the different bain segments - parietal, prefrontal etc. please don't make idiotic comparisons. .. Metonymy

Re:Stop deifying this guy (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#42013913)

WTF? Yes, Einstein is considered to have been very smart by many. However:

(transitive) To make a god of (something or someone).
(transitive) To treat as worthy of worship; to regard as a deity.

Saying "that person was really smart" isn't the same as saying "that person is a deity", it's nowhere near. Also, the brain is studied for many reasons, one of which is "why not?".

In summary, I don't even know what you just said.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42014083)

There is the difference between being smart and being the reference of what smart is.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#42014225)

Who said he is "the" reference? Did I miss something? Also, even if you were right; that difference isn't deification. Even if all IQ tests were made out relative to Einstein (which they're not), or if Einstein's views were regularly brought up in conversation to determine if something is smart or not (which they're not), yeah, that'd *still* not be deification. I agree that looking at his brain in isolation is an exercise in being silly, but I don't see how Einstein is being "deified" here, at all. It's kinda funny too, considering that Einstein himself was rather humble. If he would shrug this off with a friendly, confused smile, why don't you?

Re:Stop deifying this guy (3, Insightful)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42014819)

if Einstein's views were regularly brought up in conversation to determine if something is smart or not (which they're not), yeah, that'd *still* not be deification

Using Einstein's brain as a metric is nothing short of religion, for the simple purpose that a single man can not be used to define what intelligence is. There isn't an even an objective answer to that.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42015513)

loufoque, how dumb can you be? Your simple inability to comprehend that *nobody is using Einstein's brain as a "reference" for intelligence* is baffling. Do you know the difference between a REFERENCE and an EXAMPLE?

Albert einstein is an *example* of a smart person. (You, however, would be a pretty good *reference* for idiot, lol)

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42015349)

Loufoque, clearly you aren't very smart. I sympathize with you because it must be confusing that scientists are interested in studying Einstein's brain.

Let me explain. Einstein was a genius, and he thought about physics in very unique ways. People have hypothesized that his brain is different from the average person. We have photos of his brain. Therefore, we test the hypothesis that his brain is different by looking at the photos. Turns out, his brain *is* different. FACT.

Nobody is saying Einstein is the SMARTEST person, or that his brain is representative of intelligence. However, these structural differences might be representative of HIS intelligence, making them at the very least interesting. Get it?

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42015491)

Now, sir, it is you who isn't very smart or you would realize this kind of junk science was discredited in the 1800s...

Re:Stop deifying this guy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42015697)

WRONG. In some cases, structural differences in brains can have huge cognitive effects. Look up Kim Peek. The "science" that you are presumably referring to (phrenology) was very different and using it to argue that brain structure NEVER affects cognitive ability is just dumb. Also, phrenology was based on the idea of brain SIZE, when this study looks at something completely different. You conflating the two different types of studies shows that you really have no idea what you're talking about.

Threatened easily, I see. (3, Insightful)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 2 years ago | (#42013591)

It's natural for homo sapiens with average intelligence to fear the gifted. After all, if you admit they exist, then you may have to accept that their insights into things you don't understand may be true, and the fallacies you believe for the sake of convenience may be false. Einsten owns you, loufoque. Even dead. Cults of personality are often dangerous, yes. This is not such a case.

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (2)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42013671)

It's because I understand things that I know there is no "gift", just regular people that happen to have good intuition and ideas sometimes.

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42013811)

It's because I understand things that I know there is no "gift", just regular people that happen to have good intuition and ideas sometimes.

That's like saying "there are no good drivers, just people with fast reflexes." I mean, what? Hello! What else does "gifted" mean that having your brain generate the right ideas at the right time?

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42014095)

Gifted implies there is something special, almost magic, which makes things entirely different.

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#42014501)

And Einstein was the Sebastien Loeb of thinking.

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42014715)

Gifted implies there is something special, almost magic

"implies"? ROFL. You're watching supernatural TV drama too much. Get real.

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42014823)

If you don't understand what gifted means, I suggest you look up its etymology.

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42015031)

If you don't understand what gifted means, I suggest you look up its etymology.

I did. [etymonline.com] So what? It's not related solely to weddings anymore.

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42015193)

Oh my god.
You're not even trolling are you?

gifted is originally "given a gift". That implies that something, be it god, nature, or the laws of the cosmos, *gave* the person something to make him exceptional. Can't you see the religious or supernatural - or whatever superstitious make-believe humans have invented to cover up their lack of understanding of our world -- implications when they're right in front of you?

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42015363)

Of course I'm not trolling. I'm dead serious on this. You mentioned the "etymology of the word 'gifted'", and I responded. It's a venerable word of Indo-European origin, meaning the transfer of stuff between two entites. That's etymology to you - where the individual parts of a word came from. But that has no bearing on the subject. I don't understand why you mentioned it at all, since many words had completely different meanings in their oldest PIE reconstructions.

Can't you see the religious or supernatural - or whatever superstitious make-believe humans have invented to cover up their lack of understanding of our world -- implications when they're right in front of you?

Yes, some of them might have. But 1) that has nothing to do with etymology; 2) just because the word had some meanings in the past does not mean that it has the same set of meaning now; 3) you said "Gifted implies there is something special, almost magic" and now you're admitting yourself (be it god, nature, or the laws of the cosmos) that it could easily be a purely natural process - someone's brain ending up more capable than the brains of others - and indeed it is, thist is exactly what is happening, no fairies necessary, and no implications for anything supernatural. Get used to the fact that "gifted" is a common term in the field of psychology referring to precisely this. Or else start sending letter to publishing houses [britannica.com] to stop using that word, it you honestly think its use to be misplaced.

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | about 2 years ago | (#42016947)

Randomness, big numbers and low probabilities transform mystical events into rare events. No need to involved supranatural source for life's gifts

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42017439)

It's because I understand things that I know there is no "gift", just regular people that happen to have good intuition and ideas sometimes.

Prove it.

How come it's accepted that some people can be strong, agile or beautiful, but when it comes to being smart everyone is exactly the same? If the "shape" of the brain is completely unrelated to intelligence, how do you explain the fact there is no dog scientist? Surely it can't be because a dog's and a (human) genius' brain are completely different, no, it must be that dogs are really unlucky and are oppressed by our humanist society.

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 2 years ago | (#42013681)

It's natural for homo sapiens with average intelligence to fear the gifted. After all, if you admit they exist, then you may have to accept that their insights into things you don't understand may be true

Or maybe God not only plays dice with the universe but throws them where we can't see them (to quote another gifted person who may have more than one thing genetically different about his nervous system).

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42013823)

It's natural for homo sapiens with average intelligence to fear the gifted.

I must be unnatural, since gifted people turn me on (often just intellectually, mind you, but still...)

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42013927)

Yeah, bro! You didn't get beat up in high school because you were an insufferable dork but because you threatened everyone with your astonishing gifts!

Re:Threatened easily, I see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42014277)

It's natural for homo sapiens with average intelligence to fear the gifted. After all, if you admit they exist, then you may have to accept that their insights into things you don't understand may be true, and the fallacies you believe for the sake of convenience may be false.

Einsten owns you, loufoque. Even dead. Cults of personality are often dangerous, yes. This is not such a case.

Calling your fellow man homo sapiens and disdaining the average person, thats how to win over a crowd.

"Gifted" doesn't mean whatever you say is true or must be accepted. They do make the best liars after all. A truly gifted person would understand what trust means, and not talk like a douche bag if they wanted to be heard. Luckily, Einstein didn't have your problem.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42013767)

Seriously.
He was just a scientist among many others.

Yes, just your average run-of-the-mill scientist...

...one who managed to answer a hell of a lot more questions than others did...and create even more.

My apologies of there are those who would like to study him, even down to his physical matter, in order to try and unlock the secrets of thinking along those same lines.

If we had 10 more of him, we would probably be off this fucking rock by now...and leave the warmongers to feed their greed into the grave.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42014113)

Yes, just your average run-of-the-mill scientist... ...one who managed to answer a hell of a lot more questions than others did...and create even more.

There are several hundreds scientists which made major contributions to science. None of them were average, but that doesn't make Einstein that extraordinary and godlike.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42014125)

To develop this further, Einstein is mostly used today as a symbol and an icon used to represent "the bright scientist".
But like most icons, posthumous studies are making him larger than life.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42016183)

We have brain data on Einstein, and not on other extremely accomplished scientists. We're not studying Isaac Newton or Maxwell Planck because we don't have their brains.

You find me some more carefully dissected and measured brains from people who made major contributions to science and are not being studied. Until then, we'll use Einstein's brain because that's the one we have. Not because anybody thinks he's a god.

And yes, Einstein is used as an icon to represent a smart scientist. That's basically irrelevant to this discussion, though.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (1)

fwarren (579763) | about 2 years ago | (#42013841)

Remember. He did his best work with his ex-wife. There is the possibility that as a patent clerk, it was Einstein and his wife that worked on the theory of relativity.

After the divorce, he never did anything that matched the quality of that work. Much like George Lucas with Ex, Marcia Lucas.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (1)

neonKow (1239288) | about 2 years ago | (#42014001)

Nobody's deifying him. Einstein was an extremely gifted scientist and mathematician, the same way Michael Phelps is a gifted athlete. Neither are flawless or religious icons, but their abilities do make them stand out far beyond average human beings and we like to study how they got that way.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42014135)

Einstein, like Newton before him, is "the most fortunate, for we cannot find more than once a system of the world to establish." To borrow from Joseph-Louis LaGrange, who was both right and wrong when he said that.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (1)

TheLetterZ (734720) | about 2 years ago | (#42014333)

Seriously. He was just a scientist among many others.

What a bunch of baloney. He was the forefather of modern physics, and a groundbreaking one as well. This ranks him up alongside with Newton. He was *not* just a scientist among many others, and every single piece of modern physics is based upon the foundation he made. Pleas think before you post.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42014703)

He stole his equation from Olinto de Pretto. Maxwell was an actual insightful genius. Where's the love for all the other physicists from the late 19th-early 20th century? Or Davies? Or Young?

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42015719)

It's because he's a Jew. If Einstein was Chinese everybody would say he just stumbled upon something that would have been discovered anyways.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42016651)

Only on Slashdot. You tell these neckbeards to shave and hit the gym so the "vapid whores" will give them the time of day and your karma will never see the light of day. You take a shit on fucking Einstein and you're the hero they need.

Re:Stop deifying this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42017407)

No kidding. "Geniuses" are just modern-day saints, with all the associated fallacies. It's as if people can't let go of the idea of the supernatural:

For a similar perspective:

http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/2002/12/garber.htm

I might take this article more seriously if they had more than an N of 1. It's not a scientific paper, it's deification. You can take almost any random person off the street and find things about their brains that are unusual if you look hard enough.

It's nonsense.

That's all well and good but.. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42013453)

That's all well and good but what did his brain actually taste like?

Re:That's all well and good but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42015327)

Formalin, maybe with a slight 'cidery' quality...

Re:That's all well and good but.. (1)

gshegosh (1587463) | about 2 years ago | (#42018221)

Taste is not important. Does Einstein's brain run Linux? ;-)

And very likely... (0)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#42013481)

...Ronald Reagan, Bill Gates, Andrei Chikatilo and other people famous for various forms of stupidity and mental deficiency, have the same traits.

Re:And very likely... (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42013707)

All we need to do is to compare them against our gold standard, Mr. Abbey Normal.

Re:And very likely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42013999)

Looking at the shape of his brain tissue as a clue to his mental abilities strikes me as Cargo Cult 'science'.

No control group (2)

lawpoop (604919) | about 2 years ago | (#42013515)

This is interesting, but will this tell us if his brain is truly different from any other physicist, mathematician? Before we go making any pronouncements, I think we should do a little more research into people of his profession.

Re:No control group (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42013543)

Yeah, some kind of quantification is definitely missing. How unusual? How unusual among people of the same profession? How common are major physics discoveries among people who don't share such features (i.e., is it a necessary feature?). Attempting to draw conclusions about complex cognitive functions from small-n measurements of a handful of macroscopic features feels a little bit like phrenology.

Re:No control group (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42013599)

Exactly. This is just politically correct phrenology. Instead of examining the brain of black rapists for what makes them so damn savage we are examining the brain of a Jew genius and what makes him so special. Maybe it's because he's one of God's chosen people and so his brain is superior to all goyim!

See what a can of worms this kind of crap is?

Re:No control group (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42018097)

They still keep Gauss' brain at the university of Göttingen but didn't find anything unusual so far.

or maybe genius moulds anatomy (5, Insightful)

johnrpenner (40054) | about 2 years ago | (#42013553)

we are quick to attribute a causal relationship: a certain anatomy causes genius; but this is, strictly speaking, an interpretation. we can not dismiss out of hand that a sense of genius works into a given environment, and moulds and forms the brain from habits that result from genius, rather than genius resulting from habits — the brain the enscribed result of the history of your thinking — the history of your perception of thoughts and mental effort (or lack thereof).

2cents from sunny and cold toronto island
jp

Re:or maybe genius moulds anatomy (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42013723)

Basically, TFA is correlating cortex surface area (or volume) with intelligence. While intuitively appealing, I'm unsure if this has been subject to any sort of real analysis. Anybody out there with some data?

Dr. Frankenstein?

Re:or maybe genius moulds anatomy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42013735)

My thoughts exactly, they have twisted cause and effect.

Re:or maybe genius moulds anatomy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42013839)

Maybe it was the bike ride concussion I suffered at the age of 5 but did you use some fancy words to describe how you can exercise your brain like any other human organ?

They say studying music can have some of the same affects on the brain, no doubt studying mathematics has a greater impact, too bad we spend all our money on sports when machines do all the real work now anyway.

Re:or maybe genius moulds anatomy (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 2 years ago | (#42014643)

I have a particularly crenulated scrotal sack and I'm a genius when thinking with that.

Re:or maybe genius moulds anatomy (1)

ozydingo (922211) | about 2 years ago | (#42015029)

I can't really tell if the authors were in fact more careful than this article suggests, but the following demonstrates your point quite clearly:

Falk and her colleagues also noticed an unusual feature in the right somatosensory cortex, which receives sensory information from the body. In this part of Einstein’s brain, the region corresponding to the left hand is expanded, and the researchers suggest that this may have contributed to his accomplished violin playing.

It is already quite known that experience can cause expanded representation in various cortical areas, so failing to address that this "unusual" feature might have been caused by practicing the violin, rather than being the cause of violin skill, does little to boost the credibility of this article.

Re:or maybe genius moulds anatomy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42016375)

we are quick to attribute a causal relationship: a certain anatomy causes genius; but this is, strictly speaking, an interpretation. we can not dismiss out of hand that a sense of genius works into a given environment, and moulds and forms the brain from habits that result from genius, rather than genius resulting from habits — the brain the enscribed result of the history of your thinking — the history of your perception of thoughts and mental effort (or lack thereof).

And until 1905, Einstein's life was an utter failure. He gave up his first born for adoption and nothing is known of her. He wasn't even able to make a living teaching physics until he found a job as a patent clerk (a menial job). He was a third class patent clerk denied promotion for lack of qualifications.

In the words of Einstein's father describing Albert, "he feels profoundly unhappy with his present lack of position, and his idea that he has gone off the tracks with his career & is now out of touch gets more and more entrenched each day. In addition, he is oppressed by the thought that he is a burden on us, people of modest means".

The interesting question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42013577)

whether Einstein was born with these "unusually complex pattern of convolutions" or if they were developed because he thought about difficult physical and mathematical problems all his life.

Re:The interesting question is (2)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#42013625)

Some evidence suggests that it is developed. Specifically, studies of London cabbies' [wikipedia.org] brains.

Re:The interesting question is (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42013739)

That was just the hippocampus (according to the Wikipedia article). TFA here talks about cortical enlargement.

Other brains which have been saved? (0)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 2 years ago | (#42013601)

First thing the title made me think of, sorry about the Godwin: They Saved Hitler's Brain [wikipedia.org] .

Basic stupid question (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#42013749)

All these folds and cracks in the brain ... Are they different for different people, like fingerprints? Or, do these folds and nooks and crannies largely the same for all human beings with small variations, (like the palm of the hand or something)?

Same thing with molars. I keep reading article about finding a 100000 year old human molar in the rift valley or something. All the complex pattern on the molars... are they the same for all human beings? Or are they as distinct as finger prints?

Re:Basic stupid question (1)

ozydingo (922211) | about 2 years ago | (#42014963)

I'm not an expert on the subject, but I know there are at least several landmarks in the "nooks and crannies" (search for: gryi and sulci) that are shared across different people, and different areas of the brain are very typically found by looking relative to these landmarks (though often some amount of individual mapping is required in brain imaging studies).

Einstein did not want this. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#42013789)

Einstein specifically requested his brain not be analyzed or end up as a grotesque and bizarre display stoking morbid curiosity.

Re:Einstein did not want this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42013957)

Einstein specifically requested his brain not be analyzed or end up as a grotesque and bizarre display stoking morbid curiosity.

Well. No one has said "pics or it didn't happen yet", so we're not quite standing around gawking at his actual brain here.

That would be morbid curiosity.

And to deny others exactly what he spent his life doing (studying to learn) is rather rude to be honest. People remember the man, not his organs.

Re:Einstein did not want this. (1)

tbird81 (946205) | about 2 years ago | (#42014559)

And to deny others exactly what he spent his life doing (studying to learn) is rather rude to be honest. People remember the man, not his organs.

John Holmes's fans shed a tear.

Re:Einstein did not want this. (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42015921)

Einstein specifically requested his brain not be analyzed or end up as a grotesque and bizarre display stoking morbid curiosity.

Well, let this be a lesson then. You 'after I'm dead' wishes might not get granted.

The anatomy proves nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42013845)

Unlike our brains, maybe the differences in his brain explain why he loved his cousin.

Funny, it looks just like my brain. (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about 2 years ago | (#42013993)

Funny, it looks just like my brain.

Re:Funny, it looks just like my brain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42014479)

This is Einstein's brain.
This is Einstein's brain on drugs.

Any questions?

No Place For Racism (0)

Baldrson (78598) | about 2 years ago | (#42014245)

Obviously this is an attempt to biologize intelligence which, as we all know, is on the slippery slope to becoming anaziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

Statistical fallacy (2, Interesting)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#42014465)

I don't remember the exact details, but I recall that if you define say 20 parameters for measuring an object, there is a high probability that one of the parameters will be several sigma removed from the mean. So if you take a brain you already know is Einstein's, you can eventually find a property of that brain which is far from average. Does that mean he was a genius because of that property? Probably not.

That comment is so insightful .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42014681)

That comment is so insightful that I think we should analyze your brain.

Re:Statistical fallacy (2)

ozydingo (922211) | about 2 years ago | (#42014925)

If using a significance level of 0.05, then if you have 20 independent parameters and the null hypothesis is true for all of them, then the probability of all 20 statistical tests showing no difference is 0.95^20 = 0.36. Therefore the probability of getting at least one false positive is 64%. (I think I'm doing that right, anyway. Feel free to correct me)

Of course not all the measurement are independent, etc, and perhaps the authors already corrected for multiple comparisons. I don't really know, I'm not that interested to find and read through the full manuscript. I also can't tell if the unfounded jumps to causal relationships came from the study authors or the summary author.

Re:Statistical fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42015633)

You raise a good point, but a lot depends on your prior belief. Sure, you could define 1,000,000 insignificant features and find ones that differ. However, finding large structural differences between einstein and a control group might be incredibly unlikely, so this finding could be highly significant. Basically, all I'm saying is that multiple hypothesis correction is sometimes a problem but it might not necessarily be one in this study

Plagiarising fraud... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42015599)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMTQFFFeOVs

Quick - burn the heretic! It's 'anti-semitic' to not bow down to all Jews!

Einstein was a nobody, who happened to be a JEW, and thus his JEWISH brothers have hyped him up as the 'greatest genius in the history of mankind'. What exactly did Einstein DO that bettered the world, that makes him so important?

Just like you believe that 'modern art' is 'art', even though it plainly isn't - it's another invention of the talentless JEW, the hater of all things beautiful.

"I highly recommend Tom Wolfe’s book on modern art, The Painted Word, and his follow-up book on modern architecture, From Bauhaus to Our House, as excellent exposés of the characters who made and promoted modern art and architecture. Though Wolfe does not use the word “Jew” [Tom Wolfe, a White man, is married to a Jew – Ed.] even a quick perusal of the book (especially The Painted Word) will reveal who was behind the cultural con-job that was and is “modern art.”
The expression “painted word” is a reference to the fact that “modern art” is entirely based on “art theory,” hence it is effectively “painted theory.” (Aesthetician Arthur Danto has even claimed that “art is dead” precisely because “art” has transformed into “philosophy” or “art theory.”) The Jewish “theory” behind “modern art” is intended to “explain” the art, so as to make naive Gentiles think that such “art” has great value. Without such “theory” normal people would immediately recognize that such degenerate and primitivistic trash is not art at all.
The Painted Word features a number of photographs of the main players in the 20th century art world and, not surprisingly, they are almost all Jewish. (“Art critic,” i.e., charlatan, Harold Rosenberg looks like the devil himself!) This includes the “artists” and their promoters, such as con man Clement Greenberg, the Jew who promoted the art of the alcoholic degenerate Jackson Pollock. [Pollock, who we must reluctantly admit was a White man, was married to Jewish abstract expressionist painter Lee Krasner – Ed.] Greenberg would buy Pollock’s paintings at cut-rate prices, write glowing articles about Pollock’s brilliance as an artist, wait for the demand for Pollock’s paintings to skyrocket, and then sell the paintings at exorbitant prices. A fine swindle, that.
Flipping through the rest of the book reveals pictures of the “artists” and art promoters Barnett Newman, Leo Steinberg, Robert Rauschenberg [Rauschenberg was also a homosexual – Ed.], among others. Overall, the book provides an excellent look at the way a series of destructive, culturally subverting Jewish “theories” transformed what was the noble and beautiful tradition of Western art into yet another grotesque Jewish deformation and mockery. Jewish opposition to truth in philosophy and the social sciences is paralleled by Jewish opposition to beauty in the arts."

Re:Plagiarising fraud... (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | about 2 years ago | (#42016993)

You are way wrong, read on the dadaist, the modern art movement was seeded by theirs manifesto. No need to involve racial conspiracy.

Re:Plagiarising fraud... (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | about 2 years ago | (#42016995)

Oh, and I forgot to tell you that is was all a big prank.

Cause and effect (1)

drrilll (2593537) | about 2 years ago | (#42015865)

Is he a genius because of the shape of his brain? Or is the shape of his brain the result of a lifelong pursuit of the intellectual? It's like saying someone lifts weights because they have overdeveloped muscles.

Re:Cause and effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42016325)

Is he a genius because of the shape of his brain? Or is the shape of his brain the result of a lifelong pursuit of the intellectual?

Are we talking about Einstein or Iron Man (black sabbath, not marvel) here?

Surface area? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#42016639)

Does a person think with surface area? Without comparative data from a large number of individuals and some known relation between brain surface area and intelligence, there is no significance to the shape of a man's brain compared to that of another man.

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