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Comparative Studies of the Brain and Its Components

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

The weight of the adult brain and its component parts in mammals and birds are correlated with body weight, and with lifestyle independently of body weight. It is not clear that any particular exponent relating brain weight to body weight is characteristic of either mammalian or avian taxa, which means that most explanations for particular values of exponents lack empirical foundation. Dietary differences within different orders of mamals seem to be correlated with encephalisation (brain weight after body weight effects have been statistically controlled for), as do differences in patterns of development in birds. Strangely, dietary differences among birds and developmental differences among mammals are not correlated with encephalisation. There is no firm evidence that the exponent relaing brain to body weight differs with taxonomic level in mammals-earlier claims that there was such a relationship were founded on inappropriate statistics and failure to control for differences in diet. Recently, evidence has started to accumulate which relates the size of brain components to differences in lifestyle. Links are beginning to be forged between evolutionary, ecological, behavioural, and neuro-anatomical studies of the brain.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford OXI 3PS, U.K.


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