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Michael Brecht: The Biology of Grasping in Elephants

Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience | Animal Physiology | Systems Neurobiology and Neural Computation | Humboldt University Berlin [Bernstein Seminar]
When Feb 22, 2023
from 12:15 PM to 01:00 PM
Where Bernstein Center, Hansastr. 9a, Lecture Hall. Hybrid Format via Zoom. Meeting ID and password will be sent with e-mail invitation. You can also contact Fiona Siegfried for Meeting ID and password.
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 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 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). The both elephant tool-use and banana-peeling behavior show that elephant grasping behavior is sophisticated, heavily experience-dependent and individualized.

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Hosted by Christian Leibold


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