Marineland in Costa d'en Blanes is the home of five very special dolphins and one very talented PhD student who is working with the animals to understand their brain patterns. Sevgi Yaman is 29 years old and originally from Turkey. She has lived most of her life in Germany, and this is where she began to study biology, combining it with her love of the sea. Sevgi studied for her Master's degree in biology and found herself constantly drawn to the cetacean parts of her work - the study of whales and dolphins. She found them fascinating because they are the only mammals which evolved and went back to live in the sea, therefore they have a high level of brain development and traits reminiscent of humans, but they live in a totally different environment. After having been on holiday in Majorca previously, and having given biology lectures to diverse groups on the island, she decided to use it as a base for her PhD studies. Two years and 2 months into her time at Marineland and her studies, she has observed some interesting behaviour patterns. “I am studying the cognition and mental processes of the bottle-nosed dolphins” said Sevgi yesterday. “I am working mainly with visual tasks to determine if the animals have a dominant side of the brain, as humans do.” She thinks her research will be useful for comparisons with humans, perhaps to understand some human brain illnesses better through her work. It is widely known that the left and right sides of the brain in humans have different functions, for example the right side is for music and the left for languages. Humans also have a dominant side; left or right. Sevgi's studies determine if there is a similar pattern in dolphins - only the second study of its kind ever done. The human brain is made up of two sides which are joined together and information is passed back and forth. The dolphin brain is basically the same but the connection between the two sides is much smaller. The dolphin can sleep with one side of the brain at a time, an essential skill as the dolphin does not breathe automatically, it is a conscious motion and part of the brain needs to be awake at all times so the dolphin knows when to swim to the surface to get air. The animal swaps the sides of the brain it sleeps with to ensure it functions properly. All information received by the dolphin's left eye, goes only to the right side of the brain and the information to the right eye goes to the left side. This simplified version of the human brain and the fact that the connection between the two sides is smaller, makes it easier to study the dolphins and makes that study non invasive - the animals are not harmed.

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