Despite the divergent evolutionary paths of dolphins and primates -- and their vastly different brains -- both have developed similar high-level cognitive abilities, says Emory University neuroscientist and behavioral biologist Lori Marino. She presented her latest findings on the evolution of and differences in brain structure between cetaceans (ocean mammals like whales and dolphins) and primates April 5 during the 14th annual Experimental Biology 2005 meeting in San Diego.
Marino's presentation examined the diverse evolutionary patterns through which dolphins and primates acquired their large brains, how those brains differ, and how sensory information can be processed in different ways and still result in the same cognitive abilities.
"Eventually, a better understanding of how other species process information might be useful in helping people impaired in "human" ways of processing information. Perhaps there are alternative ways to sort out information in our own brains," says Marino, whose talk was part of the scientific sessions of the American Association of Anatomists.