Animal intelligence

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Animal intelligence

Decapitated insects will still execute the same behaviour. Mantids, however, do start their mating dance when beheaded. Long-term memory in cockroaches will stay even when the head is removed.

Vertebrates have a brain comprised of many regions in the head, and a dorsal nerve cord running down the body in the spine. The insect CNS is somewhat different: The head contains two ganglia: When referring to the insect brain, we usually mean the supraesophagal ganglion also called the anterior brain; from now on, just brain.

Just as background, ganglia are Animal intelligence of neurons packed together. Of course, it should always be kept in mind that the insects are the most diverse group of animals, and this is also seen in their CNS arrangements and in their brain structures.

The brains of insects are exceptionally malleable, and they can vary even within species this is best seen in eusocial insects like ants or bees, where members of different castes have different-looking brains.

Nevertheless, they are all variations of the same ground plan. The brain is made up of three regions: The PC is by far the largest region and contains the mushroom bodies, the pars intercerebralis, the central complex and the lateral accessory lobes. Two very prominent optical lobes are present, and they are responsible for processing the inputs from the eyes.

The DC contains the antennal lobes, which process the information coming from the antennae. The TC is the smallest part of the brain, and is also the least studied — it may have a function in tasting food.

The mushroom bodies are a pair of neuropils bunch of neurons. In most insect species, the mushroom bodies primarily recieve olfactory inputs: Odourant information is relayed from the olfactory receptors, through the antennal lobes and into the calices.

In the case of cockroaches and locusts, tactile touch and gustatory taste inputs are also found. Bees and wasps, which are predominantly visual insects, have two exceptionally large optical lobes connected to the calyces.

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The diversity of insect brains is most apparent in the mushroom bodies, since they are often compartmentalised, with each compartment dedicated to each input. The functional output of mushroom bodies is still a matter of debate. They are mostly involved in sorting out information from the different sensory inputs, since there is little evidence of any direct downstream connection to other brain areas.

They may be involved in pattern recognition, as in locusts, where specific Kenyon cells activate depending on specific smells.

But the coolest function they have is in learning. Manipulating the mushroom bodies not allowing them to develop properly has always resulted in loss of short- and long-term memory. There is a strong correlation between mushroom body size and memory in hymenopterans bees, wasps, ants as well as between size of the mushroom bodies and behavioural complexity.

It forms a line in the middle of the brain, and is made up of four interconnected regions: In locusts and bees, the compound eyes directly connect to the protocerebral bridge. The ocelli are also innervated by the central complex, and there seems to be a strong connection to the pathway responsible for polarised vision.

That said, blind insects also have strongly developed central complexes, so they must have some other role. There is also the possibility of the central complex playing a vital role in behaviour, since neural activity there is always correlated with the expression of specific behaviours.

For example, changes in activity levels are seen at the start and end of flight in locusts. This is not limited to just walking and flying, but also includes visual searches. The most definite proof comes when central complex development is suppressed. In Drosophila, this leads to inability to fly and strange walking, indicating that while it is not necessary for initiating leg movement, it is needed for control.

If only the central part of the central complex is disrupted, the fly has difficulty orienting itself and cannot deal with asymmetries: Combined with their likely role in the visual system, there is also a chance that they are integral for insects to calculate their travel paths, especially in migrating insects like the locust.

Locusts have a very well-developed polarised light detection system. They see polarised light in the sky and use it as a compass to guide them on their journey.

The subesophagal ganglion also called the posterior brain is made up of three fused segments and is responsible for controlling the mouthparts mandibles, maxillae and labiumand has a dorsal lobe for connecting the anterior brain to the rest of the CNS.

The thoracic ganglia are not only responsible for controlling the appendages wings, legs, etc.Read about the latest research on animal learning and intelligence, including studies on elephants, apes, birds and dogs. Most contemporary ethologists view the elephant as one of the world's most intelligent animals.

With a mass of just over 5 kg (11 lb), an elephant's brain has more mass than that of any other land animal, and although the largest whales have body masses twenty times those of a typical elephant, a whale's brain is barely twice the mass of an elephant's brain.

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Animal intelligence

The term Animal intelligence is currently used in three distinct but overlapping ways: as a synonym for animal cognition, to pose the question “are animals intelligent?”, or to denote a discussion of relative levels of intelligence in different animal species.

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