Von Economo neurons in the elephant brain

Atiya Y. Hakeem, Chet C. Sherwood, Christopher J. Bonar, Camilla Butti, Patrick R. Hof, John M. Allman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Von Economo neurons (VENs), previously found in humans, all of the great ape species, and four cetacean species, are also present in African and Indian elephants. The VENs in the elephant are primarily found in similar locations to those in the other species. They are most abundant in the frontoinsular cortex (area FI) and are also present at lower density in the anterior cingulate cortex. Additionally, they are found in a dorsolateral prefrontal area and less abundantly in the region of the frontal pole. The VEN morphology appears to have arisen independently in hominids, cetaceans, and elephants, and may reflect a specialization for the rapid transmission of crucial social information in very large brains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-248
Number of pages7
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Cetacean
  • Elephant
  • Frontoinsular cortex
  • Large brains
  • Von Economo neuron


Dive into the research topics of 'Von Economo neurons in the elephant brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this