If you apply the Darwinian school of thought whereby natural selection tends to weed out the weakest and least useful, while the strongest and most robust are destined to survive, you may come to the conclusion that those with the strongest brains and most genetically predisposed “geniuses” are the ones that will thrive and succeed. However, the inner workings of the brain of a genius are still something that has scientists relatively confounded. There are some notable differences in a genius brain that are causing chatter in the field of neuroscience.
In the case of a brain, size may matter. Recent scientific reports show that Einstein’s parietal lobes were much larger than average. The parietal lobes are paired lobes in our brains located at the top of the head. They are most closely associated with the reception of sensory information and mathematics. They are also responsible for how we process our environments visuospatially; that is, our ability to gauge the relative amount of distance across a room or a field of vision.
The notion that the size of a brain may be a determining factor in the level of intelligence and potential genius pre-dates Einstein, though. Phrenologists had their hands full with cranial bumps in the 19th century. It was less of a science at this time and, obviously, much less precise in a time before PET scans and EEG machines. However, it wasn’t unusual for those of wealth and influence to have their heads measured by craniometers to show off their “intelligence.”
Neural Connections and Neural Networks
Genius or not, our brains have neurons that constantly communicate with one another. Axons send out the information to dendrites. The space between which this communication happens is called the synapse. This perpetual communications are known as neural connections. These neural connections happen across our personal neural network. Neuroscientists have discovered that these neural connections are not only more active, but more complex in genius brains.
Neural networks can expand throughout our lives. With each novel experience, fact, challenge, and situation we encounter, our neural connections increase and our neural network grows. Additionally, the neural networks are also strengthened and restructured in a way that reinforces them. This stimulates growth in our brain cells and challenges our brains to have more meaningful neural connections. So, consider traveling to a new place or engaging in a new sport or game – you are actually building up neural connections in your brain and fortifying your neural network!
Our frontal lobes have quite an undertaking. They help us to determine the consequences of our actions – think of Freud’s theory of the id, ego, and superego. Think of the frontal lobe as our ego in this definition. Using our frontal lobes, we make the decision to do or not do something based on the consequence of a particular action. In addition, our frontal lobes help us retain memories long term. Typically these memories are not task-based, like tying our shoes or riding a bike, but relatively emotional in nature.
In genius brains, it has been revealed via PET and EEG tests that brain organization in the frontal lobes tends to be atypical. The areas of the frontal lobe tend to be more differentiated in the minds of geniuses, making processes in this area more efficient.
The right side of our brain is our creativity center. In addition to things like artistic creativity, this is the intuitive part of our brain. It is where problem solving happens. In genius brains, this part of the brain is also believed to be more honed than in normal brains. It tends to be less compartmentalized in geniuses than in other brains. Picture a swell of liquid running through two particular areas. One of these areas is broken down into compartments, one is wide open. The wide open space can obviously allow the liquid to flow anywhere, and at a much quicker rate, while the compartmentalized space is inhibitive. This explains the relative difference in the right brain of a genius – it is a wide open space where thoughts can flow more effortlessly and are stifled far less by neural partitions.