Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The structural organization of the insular cortex in the bottlenose dolphin was investigated by examining Nissl- and myelin-stained tissue that was sectioned coronally and tangentially. An uneven distribution of cell clusters that coincided with myelin-light zones was observed in layer II. When the present observations were compared to descriptions of modules in other animals, we found that the range of module size is restricted, while the size of the brain, particularly the neocortex, varies dramatically. Indeed, despite the tremendous expansion of the cetacean neocortex, the size of the modules in the insular cortex is similar to that described for small-brained mammals like the mouse, suggesting that module size is evolutionarily stable across species. Selection for optimal-size processing units, in terms of the lengths of connections within and between them, is a likely source of this stability.