Document Detail

Total number and volume of Von Economo neurons in the cerebral cortex of cetaceans.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19412956     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Von Economo neurons (VENs) are a type of large, layer V spindle-shaped neurons that were previously described in humans, great apes, elephants, and some large-brained cetaceans. Here we report the presence of Von Economo neurons in the anterior cingulate (ACC), anterior insular (AI), and frontopolar (FP) cortices of small odontocetes, including the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), the Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus), and the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas). The total number and volume of VENs and the volume of neighboring layer V pyramidal neurons and layer VI fusiform neurons were obtained by using a design-based stereologic approach. Two humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) brains were investigated for comparative purposes as representatives of the suborder Mysticeti. Our results show that the distribution of VENs in these cetacean species is comparable to that reported in humans, great apes, and elephants. The number of VENs in these cetaceans is also comparable to data available from great apes, and stereologic estimates indicate that VEN volume follows in these cetacean species a pattern similar to that in hominids, the VENs being larger than neighboring layer V pyramidal cells and conspicuously larger than fusiform neurons of layer VI. The fact that VENs are found in species representative of both cetacean suborders in addition to hominids and elephants suggests that these particular neurons have appeared convergently in phylogenetically unrelated groups of mammals possibly under the influence of comparable selective pressures that influenced specifically the evolution of cortical domains involved in complex cognitive and social/emotional processes.
Camilla Butti; Chet C Sherwood; Atiya Y Hakeem; John M Allman; Patrick R Hof
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of comparative neurology     Volume:  515     ISSN:  1096-9861     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Comp. Neurol.     Publication Date:  2009 Jul 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2009-05-13     Completed Date:  2009-07-15     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0406041     Medline TA:  J Comp Neurol     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  243-59     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
Copyright 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Department of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Body Weight / physiology
Brain Mapping
Cell Count
Cerebral Cortex / cytology,  physiology*
Dolphins / physiology*
Neurons / physiology*
Organ Size / physiology
Pyramidal Cells / physiology
Species Specificity
Whales / physiology*

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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