How much did Einstein use his brain?

The pathologist Thomas Harvey stole Albert Einstein’s brain, after his autopsy in 1955. After that, a whole story was opened halfway between the gruesome and scientific curiosity. Many longed to know the secret of his genius, others didn’t see this usurpation with good eyes. Be that as it may, the results of the analysis were more than revealing.

In this brief guide, we’re going to answer the question “How much Einstein uses his brain?’’ For being an icon in science and in general culture, we will examine the brain of Albert Einstein.

How much did Einstein use his brain?

Albert Einstein used 100% of his brain as the rest. 

In 2014, “Lucy”, a Hollywood film starring Scarlett Johansson and whose plot revolves around a great lie, hit theaters; that humans use only 10% of their brains. A myth that the scientific community has been dismantling for years, but that enjoys great popular acceptance today.

The human being uses practically 100% one hundred of the brain to carry out any activity, according to neurologists, which completely dismantles the plot of the film and turns it into mere science fiction.

It’s a myth that humans only use 10% of their brains, according to expert neurologists. It’s a myth that Albert Einstein spread in the 19th century, facilitating popular ignorance, he says. 

The origin of this myth is also not very clear, and it’s that an American psychologist William James, who in 1906, wrote in an article entitled The energies of men, wrote. “We are making use of only a small part of our possible physical and mental resources.”

Some argue that the origin of this myth is in the research of the late nineteenth century, where neurologists discovered that neurons only make up a relatively small percentage of our brain. To think that this means that we only use 10% of brainpower is absurd, experts say.

Therefore, the movie Lucy is based on an incorrect premise because “functional imaging tests performed on patients show that the entire brain is activated,” expert neurologists said.

From an evolutionary point of view, this myth has no place since if the remaining 90% of the brain weren’t used, its existence would not make sense.

Therefore, Lucy’s argument that if the brain were used 100 percent, the human being would develop a series of capacities that it doesn’t currently have, is pure fiction. The human being doesn’t have telepathic or telekinetic capacities nor will he ever have it, nor does he need it because for that we have the remote control.

Besides, this evidence can be verified in neurological tests that have been done on patients since, for example, in a person who has Parkinson’s, the substantia nigra that degenerates is 2% of the brain. In the same way, a patient with Alzheimer’s has 90% of his perfect brain

Neurologists and neuroscientists like Barry Beyerstein and John Henley also explain that most of the day we use almost 100% of our brains, even while we sleep. “If we weren’t using 90% of our mind, our performance shouldn’t be affected when certain areas of the brain are injured,” Beyerstein explains.

Einstein’s brain was unique?

With a mass of 1,230 grams, Albert Einstein’s brain was no larger than that of a normal adult man. However, researchers have always suspected that the scientist’s brain had to have something different from the rest.

Einstein’s brain was structured in a different way that made it unique, according to the analysis of 14 photographs taken after his death.

The study of Einstein’s brain began after his death in 1955, when pathologist Thomas Harvey photographed it from different angles before cutting it into 240 pieces for analysis. These pieces were in turn cut into slices thin enough to be examined under a microscope.

In the years that followed, Harvey distributed samples of Einstein’s brain to nearly twenty international researchers to facilitate their study. However, so far only six investigations have been published.

One of these studies, directed by the anthropologist Dean Falk, from Florida State University (USA) and recently published in the journal ‘Brain’, now reveals that the prefrontal cortex, located above the eyes in the anterior part of the brain and which houses skills such as the ability to concentrate, planning or perseverance in the face of challenges, was exceptionally developed in the brain of the German scientist.

“Einstein’s brain had an extraordinary prefrontal cortex, which may have contributed to his exceptional cognitive abilities,” Falk said.

Likewise, Einstein had an abnormally high density of neurons in some brain regions and a higher density of glial cells (whose main function is to support neurons) than other people.

Additionally, the researchers discovered abnormalities in Einstein’s parietal lobes. These lobes are involved in symbolic thinking, language skills, mathematical reasoning, and spatial orientation. “Perhaps they provided some of the neurological foundations for Einstein’s mathematical and visuospatial skills,” said Falk.

Another study by Dr. WeiWei Men of East China Normal University discovered a new technique to measure the density of nerve bundles in the corpus callosum.

The brain has an area called the corpus callosum. In essence, it’s the central connection that links one cerebral hemisphere to the other. This nerve bridge transmits information necessary for motor coordination, but it’s also involved in cognitive processes. It appears that Einstein’s corpus callosum was especially dense.

The researcher has compared the measurements with those of a group of 15 older people and 52 26-year-olds (the age Einstein was when he wrote his best articles). The differences are remarkable. Einstein’s brain has much denser connections in various areas. Without a doubt, Einstein’s brain was unique from the rest.

Why was Einstein famous?

Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in Ulm in southern Germany, into a Jewish family. He attended his primary studies at a Catholic school and began studying mathematics at the age of 12. He was not an incapable student, contrary to what is said, although he never excelled too much in school, in physics he had very good marks.

For financial reasons, the Einsteins had to move from Munich to Pavia in Italy, near Milan. Albert remained in Munich trying to enter the Zurich Polytechnic Institute (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule) at an early age but without success.

After finishing high school he graduated in 1896 in Zurich. Two years later he met Mileva Maric. Before marrying her in 1903, Einstein obtained Swiss citizenship in 1901. In 1902 the couple had an illegitimate daughter, Lieserl, who was given up for adoption. But yes, they raised their second son, born in 1904, who they named Hans Albert Einstein.

“Annus mirabilis”

Albert Einstein developed in 1905 the famous “Special Relativity Theory”. Its basis was five articles published by the scientific journal “Annals of Physics” (Annalen der Physik). One of them dealt with the photoelectric effect, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921. The year 1905 has since been called “annus mirabilis” (from the Latin: extraordinary year).

Between 1908 and 1910 he held the post of professor at the University of Bern, in Switzerland. Before the Einsteins moved to Prague, their third child, Eduard, was born. Also in the Czech city, he held the position of professor at a German university.

In 1914, just before World War I, he was elected to the Prussian Academy of Sciences and director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics. The same year he leaves Mileva and her children. Five years later they divorced, and Einstein married his cousin Elsa Loewenthal.

Einstein becomes famous

The year 1919 was not only important for his private life. At the beginning of World War I, his Theory of General Relativity of 1915 was verified by astrological observations. During an eclipse, Einstein’s prediction about the deflection of light in the sun’s gravity field was verified. From one day to the next he became a man of international popularity.

His last years in the United States

Politically he was very active, but as a pacifist and person of Jewish origin, he had no future in Nazi Germany. At the height of the National Socialist Movement, his theories were maligned as “Jewish physics.” He decided to leave his country and emigrated in 1933 to California where he became a US citizen in 1940.

In his new homeland, he decided that he would later regret it. He informed the officers about the possibility that the Germans could get the atomic bomb. That is why he declared himself in favor of the nuclear weapons development program, the so-called “Manhattan Project.” After the Hiroshima and Nagasaki catastrophes, Einstein dedicated his life to outlawing nuclear weapons.

In his last years, he focused mainly on quantum physics, seeking the so-called “world formula” (Weltformel), a unified framework for the laws of physics. He died without being found on April 18, 1955, in Princeton, New Jersey.

So, How much did Einstein use his brain?

Einstein’s brain enjoyed unique characteristics compared to the rest, such as the prefrontal cortex and a dense corpus callosum that provided better neuronal connections. However, increased use of the brain wasn’t one of these.

“We only use 10% of our brain capacity,” a quote erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, is a fallacy without any scientific basis and has been repeatedly refuted by neuroscience over the past decades.

This myth probably arose from a misinterpretation of neurological research carried out in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as those of Pierre Flourens or William James, who in their essay “The energies of men” (1907), he wrote: 

“We only use a small part of our mental and physical resources.” The same could happen with the work of the psychologist Karl Lashley in the 1930s; In his experiments with rats, he removed large areas of the cerebral cortex and found that they could still relearn specific tasks.

FAQSs: How much did Einstein use his brain?

Did Einstein donate his brain?

Shortly after Einstein died in 1978, Dr. Thomas S. Harvey stole the scientist’s brain. Harvey took the brain to a laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dissected it into various pieces; some of the pieces he kept to himself, while others were given to prominent pathologists.

What is the IQ of Einstein?

At age 20 he decided to take the Mensa test and confirmed what many thought: he was gifted. Very few people in the world have such a high IQ. Only 1 in 50 people reach it. Albert Einstein had an IQ greater than 160, paired by Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates.

Who has the highest IQ in the world?

Currently, the highest IQ in the world is 228 and belongs to the American writer Marilyn Vos Savant.

What does E mc2 mean?

That formula, of course, is the well-known E = mc2, which means that the energy of a body at rest (E) is equal to its mass (m) multiplied by the speed of light (c) squared.

How can I increase my brain power?

Do exercise.
Play memory games.
Eat the right foods.
Learn a new language.
Expand your social circle.
Always look for new challenges.
Sleep enough.

In this brief guide, we answered the question “How much Einstein uses his brain?’’ For being an icon in science and in general culture, we examined the brain of Albert Einstein.

So, can we use our brain as Einstein?

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.


Carrillo-Mora, P., Magaña-Vázquez, K., Sarahi May-López, S., & Mondragón-Ramírez, N. (2015). What did Einstein have that I don’t? Studies on Albert Einstein’s brain. Neurosciences and History, 3(3), 125–129. Retrieved from

Witelson, Sandra, Debra Kiger, and Thomas Harvey, “The Exceptional Brain of Albert Einstein.” Lancet, vol. 353, no. 9170, 19 June 1999, pp. 2149–53,