Einstein’s Brain – Think Outside the Jar!

Albert Einstein was born March 14, 1879. When he died in 1955, his wish was to be cremated, and that included his brain. However, the pathologist who performed the autopsy disagreed, and secretly removed Einstein’s brain and took it home with him. The doctor felt the brain was just too important to cremate.

The doctor was fired, obviously, but no one ever got the brain back from him. Instead, this doctor put Einstein’s brain in 2 large cookie jars filled with preservatives and kept it for decades. There was no legal precedent to charge the doctor with a crime, and the doctor left town and fell into obscurity.

The discredited doctor traveled from state to state with the brain. In the late 1970s, he sent some pieces of the brain to some researchers who had tracked him down. The package of four cube-sized pieces of Einstein’s brain was sent, in mayonnaise jars (!) via regular mail.

The subsequent studies showed nothing extraordinary about Einstein’s brain, except for a thick connection between the brain’s hemispheres. If you would like to see slides of Einstein’s brain, you can visit the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, PA.

(P.S. This is one of my favorite museums, but because of the medical oddities displayed, my husband always waits for me in the lobby.)

During Brain Awareness Week, we're sharing fun and brainy facts. Click here for more information about Brain Awareness Week and supporting a healthy brain! - Mary

The Brain Coach Blog is written by executive function coach Mary Turos. Based in Belair, MD, Mary is affectionately known as 'The Brain Coach" for her work helping people achieve harmony using strategies based in neuroscience.

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