The Schelling-Stapledon model of the Octopus

by on November 17, 2010 at 7:16 am in Science | Permalink

Octopuses have large nervous systems, centered around relatively large brains. But more than half of their 500 million neurons are found in the arms themselves, Godfrey-Smith said. This raises the question of whether the arms have something like minds of their own. Though the question is controversial, there is some observational evidence indicating that it could be so, he said. When an octopus is in an unfamiliar tank with food in the middle, some arms seem to crowd into the corner seeking safety while others seem to pull the animal toward the food, Godfrey-Smith explained, as if the creature is literally of two minds about the situation.

The full story is here and for the pointer I thank Michelle Dawson.

1 bruce November 17, 2010 at 5:14 am

Shouldn't that be "literally of nine minds"?

2 BM November 17, 2010 at 6:21 am

could someone please explain that title?

3 QuasiDoc November 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Accepting the proposition that the octopus has extra minds in its arms, we treat humans as having extra minds in our digestive tract.

4 Norman Yarvin November 17, 2010 at 7:25 pm

For a visual demonstration of octopus intelligence, see this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8cf7tPoN5o

It gives an idea of what all those neurons might be for; and if one thinks about it, one can see why the beast does local computations in its arms: those arms have so many dimensions of flexibility, yet much of that flexibility is used merely to conform to local conditions — so the control of them can be done largely in the arm itself, while still conforming to the general direction set by the central brain.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: