News for Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Senior Scholar Dean Falk Interprets Einstein’s Brain

SAR Senior Scholar Dean Falk (Einstein’s brain not pictured)SAR Senior Scholar Dean Falk (Einstein’s brain not pictured)Photograph by Jason S. OrdazSAR Senior Scholar Dean Falk (Einstein’s brain not pictured)Photograph by Jason S. Ordaz

On Friday, November 16th, Senior Scholar Dean Falk and her colleagues made international news with the release of a description and preliminary analysis of Albert Einstein’s cerebral cortex in the scientific journal Brain. Popular media sources from Science News and Nature to the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Albuquerque Journal reported on this groundbreaking research, which was also recently discussed in a PBS Nova episode featuring an interview of Dr. Falk on the SAR campus.

Upon his death in 1955, Albert Einstein’s brain was removed, fixed, and photographed from multiple angles. Fourteen of these photographs were recently discovered, which Dr. Falk and her colleagues examined and compared analytically to eighty-five other human brains currently described in the scientific literature. The team of scientists discussed unusual features of Einstein’s brain, which may help to explain his remarkable cognitive abilities and deepen our understanding of how the brains of modern human ancestors became reorganized toward higher cognitive abilities across several million years. 

Dr. Falk is a biological anthropologist who specializes in paleoanthropology, and has been elected as a fellow of the American Anthropological Association and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her publications focus primarily on the evolution of the brain and cognition, and have appeared in both the scholarly and popular literature. She has been featured in many television and radio programs that have discussed various aspects of her research. Her books include Braindance Revised and Expanded (2004), Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants & the Origins of Language (2009), and The Fossil Chronicles: How Two Controversial Discoveries Changed Our View of Human Evolution (2011), a project she completed while a resident scholar at SAR in 2008–2009. Dr. Falk has been an SAR senior scholar since 2010.

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