BRAIN AND CHARACTER
An article named “The Exceptional Brain of Albert Einstein” was published in The Lancet in 1999. It described the research of Einstein’s brain and its comparison with controls’ brains (91 volunteers “with normal neurological and psychiatric status” and normal IQ). The aim of the research was to find “the neurobiological basis of variation in intelligence” .
The research showed that “the gross anatomy of Einstein’s brain was within normal limits, with the exception of his parietal lobes. In each hemisphere, morphology of the Sylvian fissure was unique compared with 182 hemispheres from the 35 control male and 56 female brains: the posterior end of the Sylvian fissure had a relatively anterior position, associated with no parietal operculum. In this same region, Einstein's brain was 15% wider than controls. These two features suggest that, in Einstein's brain, extensive development of the posterior parietal lobes occurred early, <…> thereby constraining the posterior expansion of the Sylvian fissure and the development of the parietal operculum, but resulting in a larger expanse of the inferior parietal lobule”. The word “early” is not accidental here, because “the parietal operculum <…> normally develops <…> during fetal life”.
“Visuospatial cognition, mathematical thought, and imagery of movement are strongly dependent on this region. Einstein's exceptional intellect in these cognitive domains and his self-described mode of scientific thinking may be related to the atypical anatomy in his inferior parietal lobules”. The last paragraph states: “This report clearly does not resolve the long-standing issue of the neuroanatomical substrate of intelligence. However, the findings do suggest that variation in specific cognitive functions may be associated with the structure of the brain regions mediating those functions” .
Maybe my below hypothesis will contribute to discover the correlation between specific cognitive functions and structures of the brain regions.
In 1990, Alexander Afanasyev (1950-2005,
Though there are no strict definitions of these elements, it is obvious that Physique includes all the physical, household, labour and commercial activity; Sentiment – the artistic and emotional sphere ascribed traditionally to the “soul” or “heart”; Logic – the ability to discover the relationship between causes and effects, to work with facts and numbers, and to state opinions; and Will (or Ego) – the individual self-conception and the ability to dominate on others. All of them are present in each individual, but in different proportions, and their required “energy consuption” differs depending of their position in the hierarchy. Afanasyev’s point is that this hierarchy is not a result of circumstances and education, that it is innate, for it determines the individual’s physical habit and other non-controllable parameters, including predictable easiness/difficulty of communication with bearers of other hierarchies. So each individual belongs to one of 24 psychotypes. (For example, Abraham Maslow, the author of the famous “hierarchy of needs”, obviously had the Body and its needs on the first place, but such people as Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King obviously had other hierarchies, with the Body less important. Yet, Maslow’s psychotype is more common than
Afanasyev’s theory explains interpersonal interactions much better than other theories and speculations (for example MBTI). It has many important implementations – for schools and politics, for psychotherapy, for compatibility in marriages and adoptions, and so on. It is successfully used by many private people and groups in their life and work in
My first hypothesis was that this innate hierarchy may be connected with the structure of the brain. As far as I can judge, parietal lobe is the region of the Logic (“mathematical thought”), frontal lobe – of the Will (decision-making), temporal lobe – of the Sentiment. I supposed that people with Logic on the first place should have an increased patietal lobe, with Ego on the first place – an increased frontal lobe, an so on.
The quoted article confirms that Einstein, with his Logic on his first place, actually had an increased patietal lobe. Moreover, it seems to confirm the hypothesis stating “that in Einstein's brain extensive development of the posterior parietal lobes occurred early”, and also that “increased expansion of the inferior parietal region was also noted in other physicists and mathematicians. For example, for both the mathematician, Gauss, and the physicist, Siljeström, extensive development of the inferior parietal regions… was noted” .
All the data that I have found so far about other known people’s brains, also seem to confirm my hypothesis.
To the type “Ego–Logic–Body–Sentiment” Afanasyev gave the name of Vladimir Lenin, prominent representative of this type. So we expect that his brain would have increased frontal lobes. And indeed, this is what Dr. Oleg Adrianov, the head of The Moscow Brain Institute, said in his interview to the British newsletter ‘Independent’ in 1993, being “freed from the taboos that bound his predecessors”: “Its main conclusion: Lenin's brain was nothing special. He had a big frontal lobe and a 'large number of especially big pyramidal neurons', but, says Dr Adrianov, 'all we can do is speculate about what this means'”.
“He is still more dismissive about Stalin: 'It offers nothing'”, reports the interviewer. And actually, according to Afanasyev, Stalin’s psychotype was “Body–Logic–Ego–Sentiment”, i.e. with Body on the first place, like the majority of the population.
Another “client” of the Brain Institute was the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. Though the interview does not provide any quantitative data about his brain, I found such data in the book of Prof. S.Savelyev “Variability and Genius” .
Mayakovsky’s psychotype was “Body–Sentiment–Logic–Ego”. Here is Savelyev’s evidence: “The mass of Mayakovsky’s brain was
Unfortunately, I have not found yet any data about Andrey Sakharov’s brain which is also kept in the Moscow Brain Institute. He belonged apparently to Einstein’s psychotype. It would be interesting to compare the data.
* * *
In addition to the quantitative hierarchy of the brain regions, the hierarchy of Sentiment, Ego, Body, and Logic may be somehow related to the types and the speed of the synapses, i.e. contacts between the corresponding neurons. Probably, these contacts in each individual are faster and easier in his First and Second functions than in his Third and especially Fourth ones.
In most synapses, the signal is transmitted via neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers. I found interesting information about neurotransmitters, which may be important in the light of Afanasyev's theory.
Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning, in her recent books “Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels”, “Meet Your Happy Chemicals” and others, writes about four neurotransmitters – dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphin: “When your brain releases one of these chemicals, you feel good.”
In part of the texts she even describes them in a poetical form:
- “Oxytocin is often called the ‘love chemical’.” “Oxytocin helps you trust your mates. We love the bonds that it creates…”
- “Serotonin is the pleasure of social dominance.” “Serotonin swells your chest with pride When you get respect and needn’t hide. …You feel good when you boost yourself higher. But if others do this, it provokes your ire. ‘I don’t care about status. It’s other who do.’ But you spurt serotonin when the limelight’s on you…”
- “Dopamine makes you jump for joy When you reach a goal or get a toy. …It rewarded our ancestors’ will to explore. …Dopamine causes expectations; Correct predictions bring good sensations…”
- “Endorphin helps you mask the pain / Of injuries that you sustain. / Your ancestors survived from predator attack / Cause endorphin felt good as they ran back. / Endorphin receptors let opium in. / You feel like you’re safe tho’ you don’t lift a shin. / Exercise triggers it safely at home. / But only for workouts that last ‘til you groan…”
I don’t know yet if these neurotransmitters are related to specific brain regions or they are released wherever. But they seem to correspond exactly to the Afanasyevan functions: Oxytocin (love, trust) to Sentiment; Serotonin (dominance, status) to Ego; Dopamine (reaching a goal, exploration, correct predictions) to Logic; and Endorphin to Body.
Graziano Breuning states that everyone can train these four spheres equally by creation of ‘patterns’ or ‘habits’, and calls one of her books “Stop Negative Thought Patterns by Changing Your Brain Chemistry”. She writes: “The neural pathways you build when you’re young become superhighways in your brain, thanks to a chemical called myelin. Your myelinated pathways make it easy to do things that felt good when you were young, and avoid things that hurt when you were young. After you’re 20, myelin plummets, and new superhighways are hard to build”. “Anything you do with myelinated neurons feels natural and easy. Anything you do with unmyelinated neurons feels labored and uncertain”. But she insists that even in advanced age, one can change these ‘patterns’ by training.
However, from the Afanasyevan point of view, these are not only ‘thought patterns’ or random incidents. For each person his/her First and Second function feel more natural and easy, and the Third and especially the Fourth feel more labored and uncertain even after lifelong training. Regardless the age, the First and Second (i.e. basic) functions tend to work readily, and the Fourth function can be easily overburdened. Graziano Breuning’s point of view is more optimistic than that of Afanasyev, but if she were right, there would not be such an apparent difference between children at schools or at musical lessons, which are obviously easy for some children and difficult or even unbearable for others. It seems that the First and the Second function are fast to myelinate their neurons, while the Third and especially the Fourth suffer from myelin deficiency, or deficiency of the correspondent neurotransmitter, or both.
For example, let us pay attention that the famous Maslow’s hierarchy implies “safety” and “esteem”, but does not imply dominance, because Maslow’s Ego was situated innately on the Fourth place. One may believe that “Serotonin is the pleasure of social dominance”, but for Maslow himself and for other people with Ego-4, social dominance is not a “pleasure” but an needless burden, and this is the reason they avoid it.
But Graziano Breuning’s scheme can be useful in another aspect. If the correspondence between the four neurotransmitters and the four Afanasyev’s functions is correct, then in cases of extreme individual disharmony, i.e. in cases of extreme weakness of the Third and especially the Fourth function, – maybe an external supplement of correspondent neurotransmitters can be the therapy?
 Sandra F.Witelson, Debra L.Kigar, Thomas Harvey. The Exceptional Brain of Albert Einstein. The Lancet, vol. 353. June 19, 1999. P. 2149.
 Ibid., p. 2150.
 Ibid., p. 2149.
 Ibid., p. 2151-2.
 Ibid., p. 2150-1.
 Ibid., p. 2152.
 Alexander Afanasyev, The Syntax of Love: Typology of Personality and Prediction of Couple Relationship. 5th edition:
 Adam Grant. Say Goodbye to MBTI, the Fad That Won’t Die. Published on September 17, 2013. [Internet publication.] URL: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130917155206-69244073-say-goodbye-to-mbti-the-fad-that-won-t-die.
 S.Witelson et al., op. cit., p. 2152.
 Andrew Higgins. Lenin’s Brain: They Took It Out to Understand the Source of a Revolution They Now Reject // Independent [Internet Publication]. 1 November 1993. URL:
 See my note from 30.08.2014 in our site “Afanasyev’s Typology” (in Russian): “Though Mayakovsky is rather atypical for BELW, but other options do not fit, and this one explains everything”. URL: http://www.psychotype.info/forum/7-66-1, post #4.
 Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD. Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels. – Adams Media Corporation,
 L. Graziano Breuning. The War in Your Brain Between Healthy and Unhealthy Habits. “Psychology Today”. [Internet publication.] Posted on November 19, 2014. URL: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-neurochemical-self/201411/the-war-in-your-brain-between-healthy-and-unhealthy-habits.
 L. Graziano Breuning. The Science of Positivity: Stop Negative Thought Patterns by Changing Your Brain Chemistry. – Adams Media,