Kenneth C. Catania, , Ph.D.


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Faculty Appointments
Professor of Biological Sciences Stevenson Chair in Biological Sciences
Ph.D., Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, CaliforniaM.S., Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, CaliforniaB.S., Zoology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
Office Address
VU Station B, Box 35-1634
Nashville, TN 37235
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.
Research Keywords
Neurosciences and Behavior/Animal Sensory Systems
Catania KC. The neurobiology and behavior of the American water shrew (Sorex palustris). J. Comp. Physiol. A Neuroethol. Sens. Neural. Behav. Physiol [print-electronic]. 2013 Jun; 199(6): 545-54. PMID: 23397460, DOI: 10.1007/s00359-012-0781-7, ISSN: 1432-1351.

Catania KC. Stereo and serial sniffing guide navigation to an odour source in a mammal. Nat Commun. 2013; 4: 1441. PMID: 23385586, PII: ncomms2444, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2444, ISSN: 2041-1723.

Leitch DB, Catania KC. Structure, innervation and response properties of integumentary sensory organs in crocodilians. J. Exp. Biol. 2012 Dec 12/1/2012; 215(Pt 23): 4217-30. PMID: 23136155, PMCID: PMC4074209, PII: 215/23/4217, DOI: 10.1242/jeb.076836, ISSN: 1477-9145.

Catania KC. Evolution of brains and behavior for optimal foraging: a tale of two predators. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A [print-electronic]. 2012 Jun 6/26/2012; 109 Suppl 1: 10701-8. PMID: 22723352, PMCID: PMC3386870, PII: 1201885109, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1201885109, ISSN: 1091-6490.

Catania KC. Tactile sensing in specialized predators - from behavior to the brain. Curr. Opin. Neurobiol [print-electronic]. 2012 Apr; 22(2): 251-8. PMID: 22209039, PII: S0959-4388(11)00217-0, DOI: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.11.014, ISSN: 1873-6882.

Catania KC. The sense of touch in the star-nosed mole: from mechanoreceptors to the brain. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 2011 Nov 11/12/2011; 366(1581): 3016-25. PMID: 21969683, PMCID: PMC3172592, PII: 366/1581/3016, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0128, ISSN: 1471-2970.

Catania KC. The brain and behavior of the tentacled snake. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 2011 Apr; 1225: 83-9. PMID: 21534995, DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.05959.x, ISSN: 1749-6632.

Catania KC. Natural-born killer. Sci. Am. 2011 Apr; 304(4): 84-7. PMID: 21495488, ISSN: 0036-8733.

Leitch DB, Gauthier D, Sarko DK, Catania KC. Chemoarchitecture of layer 4 isocortex in the American water shrew (Sorex palustris). Brain Behav. Evol [print-electronic]. 2011; 78(4): 261-71. PMID: 21985842, PII: 000330832, DOI: 10.1159/000330832, ISSN: 1421-9743.

Catania KC, Leitch DB, Gauthier D. A star in the brainstem reveals the first step of cortical magnification. PLoS ONE [print-electronic]. 2011; 6(7): e22406. PMID: 21811600, PMCID: PMC3139641, PII: PONE-D-11-07533, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022406, ISSN: 1932-6203.

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. 2011 Jan 1/1/2011; 519(1): 64-74. PMID: 21120928, PMCID: PMC3064439, DOI: 10.1002/cne.22504, ISSN: 1096-9861.

Catania KC, Leitch DB, Gauthier D. Function of the appendages in tentacled snakes (Erpeton tentaculatus). J. Exp. Biol. 2010 Feb 2/1/2010; 213(3): 359-67. PMID: 20086119, PII: 213/3/359, DOI: 10.1242/jeb.039685, ISSN: 1477-9145.

Catania KC. Born knowing: tentacled snakes innately predict future prey behavior. PLoS ONE. 2010; 5(6): e10953. PMID: 20585384, PMCID: PMC2886828, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010953, ISSN: 1932-6203.

Catania KC. Tentacled snakes turn C-starts to their advantage and predict future prey behavior. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A [print-electronic]. 2009 Jul 7/7/2009; 106(27): 11183-7. PMID: 19549832, PMCID: PMC2699377, PII: 0905183106, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0905183106, ISSN: 1091-6490.

Catania KC. Symposium overview: Underwater sniffing guides olfactory localization in semiaquatic mammals. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 2009 Jul; 1170: 407-12. PMID: 19686168, PII: NYAS03925, DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.03925.x, ISSN: 1749-6632.

Sarko DK, Catania KC, Leitch DB, Kaas JH, Herculano-Houzel S. Cellular scaling rules of insectivore brains. Front Neuroanat. 2009; 3: 8. PMID: 19636383, PMCID: PMC2713736, DOI: 10.3389/neuro.05.008.2009, ISSN: 1662-5129.

Dengler-Crish CM, Catania KC. Cessation of reproduction-related spine elongation after multiple breeding cycles in female naked mole-rats. Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2009 Jan; 292(1): 131-7. PMID: 18951517, PMCID: PMC2864304, DOI: 10.1002/ar.20793, ISSN: 1932-8494.

Henry EC, Sarko DK, Catania KC. Central projections of trigeminal afferents innervating the face in naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber). Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2008 Aug; 291(8): 988-98. PMID: 18461595, DOI: 10.1002/ar.20714, ISSN: 1932-8494.

Catania KC, Hare JF, Campbell KL. Water shrews detect movement, shape, and smell to find prey underwater. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A [print-electronic]. 2008 Jan 1/15/2008; 105(2): 571-6. PMID: 18184804, PMCID: PMC2206577, PII: 0709534104, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0709534104, ISSN: 1091-6490.

Catania KC. Worm grunting, fiddling, and charming--humans unknowingly mimic a predator to harvest bait. PLoS ONE [print-electronic]. 2008; 3(10): e3472. PMID: 18852902, PMCID: PMC2566961, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003472, ISSN: 1932-6203.

Dengler-Crish CM, Catania KC. Phenotypic plasticity in female naked mole-rats after removal from reproductive suppression. J. Exp. Biol. 2007 Dec; 210(Pt 24): 4351-8. PMID: 18055624, PII: 210/24/4351, DOI: 10.1242/jeb.009399, ISSN: 0022-0949.

Marasco PD, Tsuruda PR, Bautista DM, Catania KC. Fine structure of Eimer's organ in the coast mole (Scapanus orarius). Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2007 May; 290(5): 437-48. PMID: 17387732, DOI: 10.1002/ar.20511, ISSN: 1932-8486.

Marasco PD, Catania KC. Response properties of primary afferents supplying Eimer's organ. J. Exp. Biol. 2007 Mar; 210(Pt 5): 765-80. PMID: 17297137, PII: 210/5/765, DOI: 10.1242/jeb.02690, ISSN: 0022-0949.

Henry EC, Dengler-Crish CM, Catania KC. Growing out of a caste--reproduction and the making of the queen mole-rat. J. Exp. Biol. 2007 Jan; 210(Pt 2): 261-8. PMID: 17210962, PII: 210/2/261, DOI: 10.1242/jeb.02631, ISSN: 0022-0949.

Catania KC. Olfaction: underwater 'sniffing' by semi-aquatic mammals. Nature. 2006 Dec 12/21/2006; 444(7122): 1024-5. PMID: 17183311, PII: 4441024a, DOI: 10.1038/4441024a, ISSN: 1476-4687.

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. 2006 Aug; 288(8): 859-66. PMID: 16847884, DOI: 10.1002/ar.a.20357, ISSN: 1552-4884.

Catania KC, Henry EC. Touching on somatosensory specializations in mammals. Curr. Opin. Neurobiol [print-electronic]. 2006 Aug; 16(4): 467-73. PMID: 16837185, PII: S0959-4388(06)00086-9, DOI: 10.1016/j.conb.2006.06.010, ISSN: 0959-4388.

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 [print-electronic]. 2006 Jun 6/13/2006; 103(24): 9339-44. PMID: 16751268, PMCID: PMC1482611, PII: 0603229103, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0603229103, ISSN: 0027-8424.

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. 2006 Jun; 288(6): 626-45. PMID: 16652365, DOI: 10.1002/ar.a.20328, ISSN: 1552-4884.

Henry EC, Remple MS, O'Riain MJ, Catania KC. Organization of somatosensory cortical areas in the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber). J. Comp. Neurol. 2006 Apr 4/1/2006; 495(4): 434-52. PMID: 16485289, DOI: 10.1002/cne.20883, ISSN: 0021-9967.

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. 2006 Feb; 288(2): 205-12. PMID: 16419086, DOI: 10.1002/ar.a.20288, ISSN: 1552-4884.

Catania KC. Star-nosed moles. Curr. Biol. 2005 Nov 11/8/2005; 15(21): R863-4. PMID: 16271853, PII: S0960-9822(05)01230-3, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.10.030, ISSN: 0960-9822.

Catania KC. Evolution of sensory specializations in insectivores. Anat Rec A Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol. 2005 Nov; 287(1): 1038-50. PMID: 16215983, DOI: 10.1002/ar.a.20265, ISSN: 1552-4884.

Henry EC, Marasco PD, Catania KC. Plasticity of the cortical dentition representation after tooth extraction in naked mole-rats. J. Comp. Neurol. 2005 Apr 4/25/2005; 485(1): 64-74. PMID: 15776439, DOI: 10.1002/cne.20511, ISSN: 0021-9967.

Catania KC, Remple FE. Asymptotic prey profitability drives star-nosed moles to the foraging speed limit. Nature. 2005 Feb 2/3/2005; 433(7025): 519-22. PMID: 15690041, PII: nature03250, DOI: 10.1038/nature03250, ISSN: 1476-4687.

Catania KC, Remple FE. Tactile foveation in the star-nosed mole. Brain Behav. Evol. 2004; 63(1): 1-12. PMID: 14673194, PII: 73755, DOI: 10.1159/000073755, ISSN: 0006-8977.

Remple MS, Henry EC, Catania KC. 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. 2003 Dec 12/1/2003; 467(1): 105-18. PMID: 14574683, DOI: 10.1002/cne.10909, ISSN: 0021-9967.

Catania KC, Remple MS. Somatosensory cortex dominated by the representation of teeth in the naked mole-rat brain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A [print-electronic]. 2002 Apr 4/16/2002; 99(8): 5692-7. PMID: 11943853, PMCID: PMC122833, PII: 072097999, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.072097999, ISSN: 0027-8424.

Kaas JH, Catania KC. How do features of sensory representations develop?. Bioessays. 2002 Apr; 24(4): 334-43. PMID: 11948619, PII: 10.1002/bies.10076, DOI: 10.1002/bies.10076, ISSN: 0265-9247.

Catania KC. Barrels, stripes, and fingerprints in the brain - implications for theories of cortical organization. J. Neurocytol. 2002 Mar; 31(3-5): 347-58. PMID: 12815252, PII: 5123788, ISSN: 0300-4864.

Catania KC. Early development of a somatosensory fovea: a head start in the cortical space race?. Nat. Neurosci. 2001 Apr; 4(4): 353-4. PMID: 11276222, PII: 85992, DOI: 10.1038/85992, ISSN: 1097-6256.

Jain N, Qi HX, Catania KC, Kaas JH. Anatomic correlates of the face and oral cavity representations in the somatosensory cortical area 3b of monkeys. J. Comp. Neurol. 2001 Jan 1/15/2001; 429(3): 455-68. PMID: 11116231, PII: 10.1002/1096-9861(20010115)429:3<455::AID-CNE7>3.0.CO;2-F, ISSN: 0021-9967.

Catania KC, Kaas JH. Areal and callosal connections in the somatosensory cortex of the star-nosed mole. Somatosens Mot Res. 2001; 18(4): 303-11. PMID: 11794732, ISSN: 0899-0220.

Catania KC. 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. 2000 Sep; 56(3): 146-74. PMID: 11124516, PII: 47201, DOI: 47201, ISSN: 0006-8977.

Catania KC. Cortical organization in insectivora: the parallel evolution of the sensory periphery and the brain. Brain Behav. Evol. 2000 Jun; 55(6): 311-21. PMID: 10971016, PII: 6666, DOI: 6666, ISSN: 0006-8977.

Catania KC, Collins CE, Kaas JH. Organization of sensory cortex in the East African hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris). J. Comp. Neurol. 2000 May 5/29/2000; 421(2): 256-74. PMID: 10813786, PII: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9861(20000529)421:2<256::AID-CNE10>3.0.CO;2-Y, ISSN: 0021-9967.

Catania KC. Cortical-organization in moles: evidence of new areas and a specialized S2. Somatosens Mot Res. 2000; 17(4): 335-47. PMID: 11125877, ISSN: 0899-0220.

Catania KC, Jain N, Franca JG, Volchan E, Kaas JH. The organization of somatosensory cortex in the short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica). Somatosens Mot Res. 2000; 17(1): 39-51. PMID: 10833083, ISSN: 0899-0220.

Catania KC. 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. 1999 Oct; 185(4): 367-72. PMID: 10555270.

Catania KC, Northcutt RG, Kaas JH. 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. 1999 Oct; 202(Pt 20): 2719-26. PMID: 10504308, ISSN: 0022-0949.

Catania KC, Lyon DC, Mock OB, Kaas JH. Cortical organization in shrews: evidence from five species. J. Comp. Neurol. 1999 Jul 7/19/1999; 410(1): 55-72. PMID: 10397395, PII: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9861(19990719)410:1<55::AID-CNE6>3.0.CO;2-2, ISSN: 0021-9967.

Jain N, Catania KC, Kaas JH. A histologically visible representation of the fingers and palm in primate area 3b and its immutability following long-term deafferentations. Cereb. Cortex. 1998 Apr; 8(3): 227-36. PMID: 9617917, ISSN: 1047-3211.

Catania KC, Kaas JH. Somatosensory fovea in the star-nosed mole: behavioral use of the star in relation to innervation patterns and cortical representation. J. Comp. Neurol. 1997 Oct 10/20/1997; 387(2): 215-33. PMID: 9336224, PII: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9861(19971020)387:2<215::AID-CNE4>3.0.CO;2-3, ISSN: 0021-9967.

Jain N, Catania KC, Kaas JH. Deactivation and reactivation of somatosensory cortex after dorsal spinal cord injury. Nature. 1997 Apr 4/3/1997; 386(6624): 495-8. PMID: 9087408, DOI: 10.1038/386495a0, ISSN: 0028-0836.

Catania KC, Kaas JH. Organization of somatosensory cortex and distribution of corticospinal neurons in the eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus). J. Comp. Neurol. 1997 Feb 2/17/1997; 378(3): 337-53. PMID: 9034895, PII: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9861(19970217)378:3<337::AID-CNE3>3.0.CO;2-4, ISSN: 0021-9967.

Catania KC, Kaas JH. The mole nose instructs the brain. Somatosens Mot Res. 1997; 14(1): 56-8. PMID: 9241728, ISSN: 0899-0220.

Catania KC. Ultrastructure of the Eimer's organ of the star-nosed mole. J. Comp. Neurol. 1996 Feb 2/12/1996; 365(3): 343-54. PMID: 8822174, PII: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9861(19960212)365:3<343::AID-CNE1>3.0.CO;2-4, DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9861(19960212)365:3<343::AID-CNE1>3.0.CO;2-4, ISSN: 0021-9967.