Kenneth C. Catania , Ph.D.
Professor of Biological Sciences
Stevenson Professor of Biological Sciences

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Phone Number: (615) 936-8277

Email Address:

Catania, Kenneth's picture

Office Address   Mailing Address

U7231A MRB3, 465 21st Ave S

VU Station B, Box 35-1634 37235

Research Keywords
Neuroethology, Ethology, Neocortex, Evolution, Reptiles, Mammals, Brain, Sensory Systems, Mole, Insectivore, Star-Nosed, Tentacled Snake

Research Specialty
Neurosciences and Behavior/Animal Sensory Systems

Research Description
In my laboratory we study the organization and function of mammalian sensory systems. Our investigations take a wide range of approaches including studies of animal behavior, investigation of peripheral sensory receptor structure and function, and studies of the organization of the central nervous system with an emphasis on neocortex. Information from these different approaches is integrated to obtain a broad view of how animal behavior, sensory receptors, and central nervous systems have evolved to meet the challenges mammals face in diverse sensory worlds.
Recent studies include; 1) investigation of the sensory biology of the star-nosed mole and its relatives. 2) exploring the organization of sensory cortex in shrews (some the worlds smallest mammals) 3) comparative studies of members of the family Insectivora with the aim of understanding how various configurations of sensory cortex have evolved. 4) Preliminary investigation of the sensory biology of naked mole-rats.

Catania, KC. Stereo and serial sniffing guide navigation to an odour source in a mammal. Nat Commun, 4, 1441, 2013.

Catania, KC. The neurobiology and behavior of the American water shrew (Sorex palustris). J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol, , , 2013.

Catania, KC. Tactile sensing in specialized predators - from behavior to the brain. Curr Opin Neurobiol, 22(2), 251-8, 2012.

Catania, KC. Evolution of brains and behavior for optimal foraging: a tale of two predators. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109 Suppl 1, 10701-8, 2012.

Leitch, DB, Catania, KC. Structure, innervation and response properties of integumentary sensory organs in crocodilians. J Exp Biol, 215(Pt 23), 4217-30, 2012.

Catania, KC. The sense of touch in the star-nosed mole: from mechanoreceptors to the brain. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 366(1581), 3016-25, 2011.

Catania, KC. The brain and behavior of the tentacled snake. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 1225, 83-9, 2011.

Catania, KC. Natural-born killer. Sci Am, 304(4), 84-7, 2011.

Catania, KC, Leitch, DB, Gauthier, D. A star in the brainstem reveals the first step of cortical magnification. PLoS One, 6(7), e22406, 2011.

Leitch, DB, Gauthier, D, Sarko, DK, Catania, KC. Chemoarchitecture of layer 4 isocortex in the American water shrew (Sorex palustris). Brain Behav Evol, 78(4), 261-71, 2011.

Sarko, DK, Leitch, DB, Girard, I, Sikes, RS, Catania, KC. Organization of somatosensory cortex in the Northern grasshopper mouse (Onychomys leucogaster), a predatory rodent. J Comp Neurol, 519(1), 64-74, 2011.

Catania, KC. Born knowing: tentacled snakes innately predict future prey behavior. PLoS One, 5(6), e10953, 2010.

Catania, KC, Leitch, DB, Gauthier, D. Function of the appendages in tentacled snakes (Erpeton tentaculatus). J Exp Biol, 213(3), 359-67, 2010.

Catania, KC. Tentacled snakes turn C-starts to their advantage and predict future prey behavior. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 106(27), 11183-7, 2009.

Catania, KC. Symposium overview: Underwater sniffing guides olfactory localization in semiaquatic mammals. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 1170, 407-12, 2009.

Dengler-Crish, CM, Catania, KC. Cessation of reproduction-related spine elongation after multiple breeding cycles in female naked mole-rats. Anat Rec (Hoboken), 292(1), 131-7, 2009.

Sarko, DK, Catania, KC, Leitch, DB, Kaas, JH, Herculano-Houzel, S. Cellular scaling rules of insectivore brains. Front Neuroanat, 3, 8, 2009.

Catania, KC. Worm grunting, fiddling, and charming--humans unknowingly mimic a predator to harvest bait. PLoS One, 3(10), e3472, 2008.

Catania, KC, Hare, JF, Campbell, KL. Water shrews detect movement, shape, and smell to find prey underwater. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 105(2), 571-6, 2008.

Henry, EC, Sarko, DK, Catania, KC. Central projections of trigeminal afferents innervating the face in naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber). Anat Rec (Hoboken), 291(8), 988-98, 2008.

Dengler-Crish, CM, Catania, KC. Phenotypic plasticity in female naked mole-rats after removal from reproductive suppression. J Exp Biol, 210(Pt 24), 4351-8, 2007.

Henry, EC, Dengler-Crish, CM, Catania, KC. Growing out of a caste--reproduction and the making of the queen mole-rat. J Exp Biol, 210(Pt 2), 261-8, 2007.

Marasco, PD, Catania, KC. Response properties of primary afferents supplying Eimer''s organ. J Exp Biol, 210(Pt 5), 765-80, 2007.

Marasco, PD, Tsuruda, PR, Bautista, DM, Catania, KC. Fine structure of Eimer''s organ in the coast mole (Scapanus orarius). Anat Rec (Hoboken), 290(5), 437-48, 2007.

Catania, KC. Olfaction: underwater ''sniffing'' by semi-aquatic mammals. Nature, 444(7122), 1024-5, 2006.

Catania, KC, Henry, EC. Touching on somatosensory specializations in mammals. Curr Opin Neurobiol, 16(4), 467-73, 2006.

Crish, SD, Dengler-Crish, CM, Catania, KC. Central visual system of the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber). Anat Rec A Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol, 288(2), 205-12, 2006.

Dengler-Crish, CM, Crish, SD, O''Riain, MJ, Catania, KC. Organization of the somatosensory cortex in elephant shrews (E. edwardii). Anat Rec A Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol, 288(8), 859-66, 2006.

Henry, EC, Catania, KC. Cortical, callosal, and thalamic connections from primary somatosensory cortex in the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber), with special emphasis on the connectivity of the incisor representation. Anat Rec A Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol, 288(6), 626-45, 2006.

Henry, EC, Remple, MS, O''riain, MJ, Catania, KC. Organization of somatosensory cortical areas in the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber). J Comp Neurol, 495(4), 434-452, 2006.

Marasco, PD, Tsuruda, PR, Bautista, DM, Julius, D, Catania, KC. Neuroanatomical evidence for segregation of nerve fibers conveying light touch and pain sensation in Eimer''s organ of the mole. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 103(24), 9339-44, 2006.

Catania, KC. Evolution of sensory specializations in insectivores. Anat Rec A Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol, 287(1), 1038-50, 2005.

Catania, KC. Star-nosed moles. Curr Biol, 15(21), R863-4, 2005.

Catania, Kenneth C, Remple, Fiona E. Asymptotic prey profitability drives star-nosed moles to the foraging speed limit. Nature, 433(7025), 519-22, 2005.

Henry, Erin C, Marasco, Paul D, Catania, Kenneth C. Plasticity of the cortical dentition representation after tooth extraction in naked mole-rats. J Comp Neurol, 485(1), 64-74, 2005.

Catania, Kenneth C, Remple, Fiona E. Tactile foveation in the star-nosed mole. Brain Behav Evol, 63(1), 1-12, 2004.

Catania, Kenneth C. Barrels, stripes, and fingerprints in the brain - implications for theories of cortical organization. J Neurocytol, 31(3-5), 347-58, 2003.

Remple, Michael S, Henry, Erin C, Catania, Kenneth C. Organization of somatosensory cortex in the laboratory rat (Rattus norvegicus): Evidence for two lateral areas joined at the representation of the teeth. J Comp Neurol, 467(1), 105-18, 2003.

Catania, Kenneth C, Remple, Michael S. Somatosensory cortex dominated by the representation of teeth in the naked mole-rat brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 99(8), 5692-7, 2002.

Kaas, Jon H, Catania, Kenneth C. How do features of sensory representations develop. Bioessays, 24(4), 334-43, 2002.

Catania, K C. Early development of a somatosensory fovea: a head start in the cortical space race. Nat Neurosci, 4(4), 353-4, 2001.

Catania, K C, Kaas, J H. Areal and callosal connections in the somatosensory cortex of the star-nosed mole. Somatosens Mot Res, 18(4), 303-11, 2001.

Jain, N, Qi, H X, Catania, K C, Kaas, J H. Anatomic correlates of the face and oral cavity representations in the somatosensory cortical area 3b of monkeys. J Comp Neurol, 429(3), 455-68, 2001.

Catania, K C. Cortical-organization in moles: evidence of new areas and a specialized S2. Somatosens Mot Res, 17(4), 335-47, 2000.

Catania, K C. Epidermal sensory organs of moles, shrew moles, and desmans: a study of the family talpidae with comments on the function and evolution of Eimer''s organ. Brain Behav Evol, 56(3), 146-74, 2000.

Catania, K C. Cortical organization in insectivora: the parallel evolution of the sensory periphery and the brain. Brain Behav Evol, 55(6), 311-21, 2000.

Catania, K C, Collins, C E, Kaas, J H. Organization of sensory cortex in the East African hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris). J Comp Neurol, 421(2), 256-74, 2000.

Catania, K C, Jain, N, Franca, J G, Volchan, E, Kaas, J H. The organization of somatosensory cortex in the short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica). Somatosens Mot Res, 17(1), 39-51, 2000.

Catania, K C. A nose that looks like a hand and acts like an eye: the unusual mechanosensory system of the star-nosed mole. J Comp Physiol [A], 185(4), 367-72, 1999.

Catania, K C, Lyon, D C, Mock, O B, Kaas, J H. Cortical organization in shrews: evidence from five species. J Comp Neurol, 410(1), 55-72, 1999.

Catania, K C, Northcutt, R G, Kaas, J H. The development of a biological novelty: a different way to make appendages as revealed in the snout of the star-nosed mole Condylura cristata. J Exp Biol, 202 ( Pt 20), 2719-26, 1999.

Jain, N, Catania, K C, Kaas, J H. A histologically visible representation of the fingers and palm in primate area 3b and its immutability following long-term deafferentations. Cereb Cortex, 8(3), 227-36, 1998.

Catania, K C, Kaas, J H. Organization of somatosensory cortex and distribution of corticospinal neurons in the eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus). J Comp Neurol, 378(3), 337-53, 1997.

Catania, K C, Kaas, J H. Somatosensory fovea in the star-nosed mole: behavioral use of the star in relation to innervation patterns and cortical representation. J Comp Neurol, 387(2), 215-33, 1997.

Catania, K C, Kaas, J H. The mole nose instructs the brain. Somatosens Mot Res, 14(1), 56-8, 1997.

Jain, N, Catania, K C, Kaas, J H. Deactivation and reactivation of somatosensory cortex after dorsal spinal cord injury. Nature, 386(6624), 495-8, 1997.

Catania, K C. Ultrastructure of the Eimer''s organ of the star-nosed mole. J Comp Neurol, 365(3), 343-54, 1996.

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