Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 215, Issue 3, pp 273–298

Neuronal morphology in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) neocortex

Authors

    • Laboratory of Quantitative Neuromorphology, PsychologyThe Colorado College
  • Jessica Lubs
    • Laboratory of Quantitative Neuromorphology, PsychologyThe Colorado College
  • Markus Hannan
    • Laboratory of Quantitative Neuromorphology, PsychologyThe Colorado College
  • Kaeley Anderson
    • Laboratory of Quantitative Neuromorphology, PsychologyThe Colorado College
  • Camilla Butti
    • Department of Neuroscience and Friedman Brain InstituteMount Sinai School of Medicine
  • Chet C. Sherwood
    • Department of AnthropologyThe George Washington University
  • Patrick R. Hof
    • Department of Neuroscience and Friedman Brain InstituteMount Sinai School of Medicine
  • Paul R. Manger
    • Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Anatomical SciencesUniversity of the Witwatersrand
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00429-010-0288-3

Cite this article as:
Jacobs, B., Lubs, J., Hannan, M. et al. Brain Struct Funct (2011) 215: 273. doi:10.1007/s00429-010-0288-3

Abstract

Virtually nothing is known about the morphology of cortical neurons in the elephant. To this end, the current study provides the first documentation of neuronal morphology in frontal and occipital regions of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana). Cortical tissue from the perfusion-fixed brains of two free-ranging African elephants was stained with a modified Golgi technique. Neurons of different types (N = 75), with a focus on superficial (i.e., layers II–III) pyramidal neurons, were quantified on a computer-assisted microscopy system using Neurolucida software. Qualitatively, elephant neocortex exhibited large, complex spiny neurons, many of which differed in morphology/orientation from typical primate and rodent pyramidal neurons. Elephant cortex exhibited a V-shaped arrangement of bifurcating apical dendritic bundles. Quantitatively, the dendrites of superficial pyramidal neurons in elephant frontal cortex were more complex than in occipital cortex. In comparison to human supragranular pyramidal neurons, elephant superficial pyramidal neurons exhibited similar overall basilar dendritic length, but the dendritic segments tended to be longer in the elephant with less intricate branching. Finally, elephant aspiny interneurons appeared to be morphologically consistent with other eutherian mammals. The current results thus elaborate on the evolutionary roots of Afrotherian brain organization and highlight unique aspects of neural architecture in elephants.

Keywords

DendriteMorphometryDendritic spineGolgi methodBrain evolution

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010