Albert Einstein was frighteningly smart. Although his brain was not bigger than the average human’s, somehow he worked better, managing to develop ideas and reasoning inconceivable for the lowly mortals.
But why can’t we all be as smart as Einstein?
It looks like the answer has finally arrived. New research indicates that brains evolve not just to minimize energy cost or become as smart as possible, but to strike a balance between the two.
Although the brain occupies only 2% of our body mass, it burns 20% of our energy. So evolution has led to tweaking the brain’s design to make it “cheaper” for the body. A smaller brain uses less energy, which explains why our brains haven’t gotten bigger over the millennia.
But that doesn’t explain why we can’t do more with the mental improvements we’ve had, and why we can’t be like Einstein, whose brain wasn’t huge but was highly efficient. Einstein apparently never took an IQ test, but scientists estimate his score would have been around 160, higher than 99.9% of the population.
Why doesn’t our brain, compared to his, look amazing at all?
Neuroimaging data show that individuals with high neural efficiency have a higher IQ. But the brain connections that give people a lot of intelligence come at a higher cost to the body, with more energy expenditure.
As with other people who have high IQs, Einstein’s brain likely made far-reaching connections between different brain regions. However, these jumps across great anatomical distances require an enormous amount of energy, so the average person’s brain simply cannot build these pathways.
The human brain average represents a type of trade-off that balances maximizing efficiency with minimizing costs to the body. Yeah, apparently hundreds of books, courses and faculties don’t help. We just have to accept that, unfortunately, not everyone can be like Einstein.