Last Saturday BM&Lís Members discussed the role of glia in brain processing, starting from an introductory speech about Einsteinís brain anatomy, held by James R. Fulton.

Our knowledge of the geniusí encephalon began as the first observation was conducted by Thomas Harvey, the pathologist who removed Einsteinís brain during the autopsy.

Harvey weighed, measured, photographed an then dissected Einsteinís brain in a total of about two hundred and forty pieces, some of which were sealed in paraffin, while others were left to float raw in formaldehyde. In cooperation with Marta Keller, a highly competent university lab technician now ninety-seven, Harvey provided a number of high quality slides from the most famous brain tissue of the century. For a better work he also consulted with various researchers of the Wistar Institute, a University of Pennsylvania facility famous for its collection of brains. Yet, what they learned about Einsteinís brain, was considered nothing more than an anatomical curiosity.

In the light of todayís neurobiological acquisitions, Harveyís work -as well as the job of other scientists on specimens from the encephalon of Albert Einstein- acquires new relevance and, with the support of new methods and technologies, can give us new insights.


BM&L-November 2004