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:

Study shows association between gut microbes and brain structure in people with IBS
Research shows for the first time an association between the gut microbiota and the brain regions involved in the processing of sensory information from their bodies.
Penn study finds linkage between social network structure and brain activity
New research performed at the University of Pennsylvania finds that the brain's response to social exclusion differs depending on the structure of a person's social network.
Brain tissue structure could explain link between fitness and memory
Studies have suggested a link between fitness and memory, but researchers have struggled to find the mechanism that links them.
Link discovered between immune system, brain structure and memory
In two independent studies, scientists at the University of Basel have demonstrated that both the structure of the brain and several memory functions are linked to immune system genes.
Regulator of chromosome structure crucial to healthy brain function and nerve development
Research led by Osaka University showed that a regulatory protein of chromosome structure (cohesin) is essential for proper maintenance of gene expression in the developing brain.
Study links brain structure, anxiety and negative bias in healthy adults
Healthy college students who have a relatively small inferior frontal cortex - a brain region behind the temples that helps regulate thoughts and emotions - are more likely than others to suffer from anxiety, a new study finds.
Personality traits linked to differences in brain structure
Our personality may be shaped by how our brain works, but in fact the shape of our brain can itself provide surprising clues about how we behave -- and our risk of developing mental health disorders -- suggests a study published today.
The Tasmanian tiger had a brain structure suited to a predatory life style
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 Jan.
Huntington's disease linked to dysfunction of brain structure
Scientists have identified a link between Huntington's disease and dysfunction of the subthalamic nucleus, a component of the basal ganglia, a group of brain structures critical for movement and impulse control.
White matter structure in the brain predicts cognitive function at ages 1 and 2
A new study led by University of North Carolina School of Medicine researchers concluded that patterns of white matter microstructure present at birth and that develop after birth predict the cognitive function of children at ages 1 and 2.

Related Brain Structure Reading:

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

Bias And Perception
How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us. Guests include writer and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, climatologist J. Marshall Shepherd, journalist Andreas Ekström, and experimental psychologist Tony Salvador.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#514 Arctic Energy (Rebroadcast)
This week we're looking at how alternative energy works in the arctic. We speak to Louie Azzolini and Linda Todd from the Arctic Energy Alliance, a non-profit helping communities reduce their energy usage and transition to more affordable and sustainable forms of energy. And the lessons they're learning along the way can help those of us further south.