Nav: Home

The Tasmanian tiger had a brain structure suited to a predatory life style

January 18, 2017

Scans of preserved Tasmanian tiger brains suggest that these extinct predators devoted more of the cortex to complex cognition associated with predation compared to modern Tasmanian devils, according to a study published January 18, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Gregory Berns from Emory University, US, and Ken Ashwell from University of New South Wales, Australia.

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was a carnivorous marsupial and the apex predator in Tasmania. But the last one died in 1936 and little is known about the species' natural behavior. However, some behaviors can be inferred from brain structure, so Berns and Ashwell scanned two thylacine brains and reconstructed neural connections. The researchers also compared the structure of thylacine brains with that of Tasmanian devil brains.

The researchers found that thylacine brains had larger caudate zones than Tasmanian devil brains. This suggests that thylacines devoted more of their cortex to complex cognition, particularly action planning and possibly even decision making. This fits with the ecological niches of these two animals: Tasmanian devils are scavengers while thylacines were hunters, and the latter foraging strategy entails more planning.
-end-
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available paper: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0168993

Citation: Berns GS, Ashwell KWS (2017) Reconstruction of the Cortical Maps of the Tasmanian Tiger and Comparison to the Tasmanian Devil. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0168993. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0168993

Funding: The TTM-Trial was funded by independent research grants from the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation; Arbetsmarknadens Försäkringsaktiebolag Insurance Foundation; Swedish Research Council; regional research support, Region Skåne; governmental funding of clinical research within the Swedish National Health Services; Thelma Zoega Foundation; Krapperup Foundation; Thure Carlsson Foundation; Hans-Gabriel and Alice Trolle-Wachtmeister Foundation for Medical Research; Skåne University Hospital, Sweden; TrygFonden, Denmark; the European Clinical Research Infrastructures Network; and the European Critical Care Research Network. There was no commercial funding. Funding organizations neither had any access to the data nor had any influence on the analysis or interpretation.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLOS

Related Brain Structure Articles:

Structure of brain networks is not fixed, study finds
The shape and connectivity of brain networks -- discrete areas of the brain that work together to perform complex cognitive tasks -- can change in fundamental and recurring ways over time, according to a study led by Georgia State University.
Brain structure determines individual differences regarding music sensitivity
The white matter structure in the brain reflects music sensitivity, according to a study by the research group on Cognition and Brain Plasticity of the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (UB-IDIBELL).
Obesity linked with differences in form and structure of the brain
Researchers using sophisticated MRI technology have found that higher levels of body fat are associated with differences in the brain's form and structure, including smaller volumes of gray matter, according to a new study.
BRAIN Initiative tool may transform how scientists study brain structure and function
Researchers have developed a high-tech support system that can keep a large mammalian brain from rapidly decomposing in the hours after death, enabling study of certain molecular and cellular functions.
Stanford researchers outline the role of a deep brain structure in concussion
Through a combination of biometric tracking, simulated modeling and medical imaging, researchers detail how hits to the side of the head cause concussion.
Genetic risk for ADHD manifest in brain structure in childhood
There is only scant scientific evidence on whether the genetic risk for developing specific psychiatric disorders or cognitive traits is manifest in brain structure from childhood and, to date, studies have focused primarily on adult populations.
Study reveals new information about infant brain structure
Infant brain development is still poorly understood. Thus, research on the topic is vital as developing brains are sensitive to early environmental factors.
Army, university study suggests brain structure could influence behavior
New research focusing on how brain structure may impact brain activity and ultimately human behavior could one day lead to technology that can be catered to an individual Soldier in a training environment or operational setting.
How does brain structure influence performance on language tasks?
The architecture of each person's brain is unique, and differences may influence how quickly people can complete various cognitive tasks.
Sleep disorder linked with changes to brain structure typical of dementia
Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with changes to the structure of the brain that are also seen in the early stages of dementia, according to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal.
More Brain Structure News and Brain Structure Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.