Munich Neuroscience Calendar


06.06.2023, 11:00 Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence Campus Martinsried
until 12:00
Event Type: Talk
Speaker: Michael Brecht
Institute: Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin

Title: The Biology of Grasping in Elephants

MPI BI, Seminar room NQ105
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried

Host: Ashley Parker

I will present data on a systemic investigation of grasping in elephants. The analysis of sensory nerves suggests that elephants are extremely tactile animals. In elephants, trunk whisker length is lateralized as a result of heavily lateralized trunk behaviors. The elephant trunk tip appears to be represented by a large cortical three-dimensional trunk-tip model; this observation is reminiscent of the somatosensory cortical snout representation in pigs. The cellular architecture of the elephant brain is markedly different from rodent brains. The trunk musculature of elephants is breath-takingly complex and filigree (~90.000 muscle fascicles). Trunk morphology, motor neuron organization and grasping differs between African elephants (which pinch objects with their two trunk fingers) and Asian elephants (which have only one finger and wrap objects with their trunk). Elephant behaviors such as tool-use and banana-peeling show that elephant grasping is sophisticated, heavily experience-dependent and individualized.

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