Von Economo neurons in the elephant brain.
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.