It sounds like science fiction, but moments after Albert Einstein passed away, his brain was removed so that it could be studied in the name of science. Since then countless studies have been carried out to try and find out what made Einstein so incredibly smart, and how we could potentially gain some of his incredible insight.
Until recently, findings have been fairly mixed, but a recently published study might just hold the answer. In it, Einstein’s brain is described as having a significantly thicker and more developed corpus callosum than the average human brain. So if you want to improve your own cognitive powers, the question you should be asking is: what is a corpus callosum and how can you develop it?
What Is the Corpus Callosum
Essentially the corpus callosum is the ‘bridge’ that exists between the two hemispheres of our brain. It’s a fallacy to believe that you get ‘left brained and right brained’ people, but what’s true is that different functions of the brain reside specifically in different hemispheres. So in other words, some tasks are performed in one side of your brain, while others will take place in the other – and it’s when these sides of the brain need to operate together in unison that the corpus callosum comes into play and acts as a bridge of sorts for all that information.
What this suggests then, is that perhaps Einstein’s thicker corpus callosum enabled him to use more pats of his brain in unison more effectively. This would then have allowed him to potentially think more abstractly and to see connections where we might miss them.
How You Become Einstein
So the question is, how does this help you to think more like Einstein? Well that’s down to a phenomenon known as ‘brain plasticity’. This term describes the fact that the brain is ‘plastic’ in nature. In other words, it can change shape in accordance with the way we use.
What we don’t know about Einstein, is whether he was born with his brain the way it was, or whether the way he used it is what caused it to become that way. Did practicing that kind of thought cause the corpus callosum to thicken?
What this means either way, is that there’s a good chance you can improve your own capacity for ‘whole brain thought’ by simply practicing it more. By using a variety of training methods to use your whole brain at once, you might be able to strengthen your corpus callosum and thus become better at that kind of reasoning.
Whole Brain Tasks
So what ‘whole brain tasks’ are out there for you to try? Well one perfect example is music – musicians have been shown to use more of their brain at once when playing instruments and this is one of the very best exercises for encouraging brain plasticity and neurogenesis (the birth of new brain cells). Einstein himself played the piano and violin, so if you want to get smarter then that might be a good place to start.
Another activity shown to improve these abilities is juggling which requires you to coordinate both hands while watching the balls in the air. You can even achieve something similar by brushing your teeth with your other hand, or just swapping which side your mouse is on on your computer – developing ambidexterity is a great place to start.
Of course you shouldn’t start brushing your teeth left handed and expect to turn into Einstein overnight. It would take years probably to develop any noticeable change in your brain that way, and even then that’s only one aspect of what made Einstein’s brain so unique. What can help a lot though is learning an instrument and particularly in younger life. So if you have aspirations for your child to become the next theoretical genius, then perhaps it’s time to start taking them to piano lessons?