1487 Anatomical Basis of Dolphin Intelligence

Sunday, February 21, 2010: 3:30 PM
Room 7B (San Diego Convention Center)
Lori Marino , Emory University, Atlanta, GA, United States

Many modern dolphin brains are significantly larger than our own and second in mass to the

human brain when corrected for body size. Despite evolving along a different neuroanatomical

trajectory than human brains, cetacean brains exhibit several features that are correlated with

complex intelligence, including a large expanse of neocortical volume that is more convoluted

than our own, extensive insular and cingulate regions, and highly differentiated cellular regions.

These characteristics of dolphin brains are consistent with current behavioral evidence. In this

presentation I will discuss the neuroanatomical basis of complex intelligence in dolphins, how the

neuroanatomy provides evidence for psychological continuity between humans and dolphins, and

the profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions. Specifically, I will focus

on the growing worldwide industry of capturing and confining dolphins for amusement in marine

park shows, "swim-with-dolphin" and "dolphin-assisted therapy" facilities. Our current knowledge

of dolphin brain complexity and intelligence suggests that these practices are potentially psychologically

harmful to dolphins and present a misinformed picture of their natural intellectual capacities.

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