Quantitative Examination of the Bottlenose Dolphin Cerebellum


Correspondence to: Jacopo Annese, Ph.D.; The Brain Observatory, 3510 Dunhill Street, CA 92121. Fax: 858-534-4064. E-mail: jannese@ucsd.edu


Neuroanatomical research into the brain of the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) has revealed striking similarities with the human brain in terms of size and complexity. However, the dolphin brain also contains unique allometric relationships. When compared to the human brain, the dolphin cerebellum is noticeably larger. Upon closer examination, the lobule composition of the cerebellum is distinct between the two species. In this study, we used magnetic resonance imaging to analyze cerebellar anatomy in the bottlenose dolphin and measure the volume of the separate cerebellar lobules in the bottlenose dolphin and human. Lobule identification was assisted by three-dimensional modeling. We find that lobules VI, VIIb, VIII, and IX are the largest lobules of the bottlenose dolphin cerebellum, while the anterior lobe (I–V), crus I, crus II, and the flocculonodular lobe are smaller. Different lobule sizes may have functional implications. Auditory-associated lobules VIIb, VIII, IX are likely large in the bottlenose dolphin due to echolocation abilities. Our study provides quantitative information on cerebellar anatomy that substantiates previous reports based on gross observation and subjective analysis. This study is part of a continuing effort toward providing explicit descriptions of cetacean neuroanatomy to support the interpretation of behavioral studies on cetacean cognition. Anat Rec, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.