The Russian author, Ivan Turgenev’s brain weighed 4lb 6oz and was unusually large: the average male brain is 3lb 1oz. Anatole France who won the Nobel Prize for Literature had a brain that was unusually small and weighed only 2lb 4oz, around half the size of Turgenev’s.
The correlation between brain size in proportion to body and IQ is generally what you’d expect; people with bigger brains with respect to their body size tend to be smarter. But it’s by no means always the case, as Anatole France proves. Einstein’s brain was also below average at 2lb 11.4 oz. It is something neuroscientists are still striving to understand.
Aristotle believed that the brain was a device for cooling the blood.
With luck on your side, you can do without brains.
After his death, Walt Whitman’s brain was preserved in a jar and presented to University of Pennsylvania’s Wistar Institute.
The Wistar Institute was famous for its collection of 19th century elite brains. These had been donated in pre-mortem agreements by members of The American Antropometric Society, informally called the 'Brain Club', established in 1889. The idea at the time was that the brains of geniuses would show organic differences to those of normal people. But Whitman's brain is not there now, because the jar containing it was dropped in the lab, smashing it and it had to be hosed down the nearest drain.
I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.
The Museum of Scientifically Accurate Brain Art houses works 'inspired by research from neuroscience, dissection and neuroeconomics'. It is curated by a research assistant at The Brain Development Lab at the University of Oregan and features knitting, embroidery and rugs depicting anatomically accurate brains. Its website contains this splendid legal warning:
'While our artists make every effort to insure accuracy, we cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of using fabric brain art as a guide for functional magnetic resonance imaging, trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, neurosurgery, or single-neuron recording.'
In the operation known as hemispherectomy, half the brain is removed. The surgery has no apparent effect on personality or memory.
The first known hemispherectomy was performed on a dog in 1888 by German physiologist Friedrich Goltz. In humans, neurosurgeon Walter Dandy successfully pioneered the operation in 1923 on a brain tumour patient.
Most hemispherectomy patients are 5 to 10 years old, but neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as 3 months. A recent study found that 86% of the 111 children who underwent hemispherectomy at John Hopkins University between 1975 and 2001 are either seizure-free or have non-disabling seizures that don't need medication.
Another study found that children who underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped.
Although patients can run, dance and skip, they lose the use of the hand opposite to the hemisphere that was removed and vision on that side is lost in both eyes. Remarkably, few other side effects are seen.
Chinese scientists have performed surgeryto attach a live pigeon's brain to a remote control unit so they can fly it around where they want.
All that we know, all that we are, comes from the way our neurons are connected.
The idea that alcohol kills brain cells dates back at least as far as the 1820s but has no basis in scientific fact.
The Sea squirt larva floats through the sea in search of a rock to cling to. When it finds one, it no longer needs its brain so it eats it.