Filter All Projects

Project Details

Griebel Ulrike | Fellow Postdoctoral
1998-09-01 - 2001-06-30 | Research area: Cognition and Sociality
Spatial Probability Learning in Octopus

Cephalopod brains are comparable in size to those of lower vertebrates and they are absolutely the largest of any invertebrate brains. Learning in these invertebrates is especially interesting because all species can be expected to share a common complement of basic learning and problem-solving mechanisms as a result of either shared evolutionary history or as a result of adaptive response to the causal structure of nature. Cephalopods provide a special opportunity to study general principles of cognition and communication.

It is the aim of this project to investigate certain principles of information processing and learning which have evolved in vertebrates and have not been tested yet in cephalopods. 
One focus of our studies is lateralization. We are testing behavioral asymmetries such as eye dominance and arm dominance in Octopus vulgaris in behavioral as well as anatomical studies. Another experiment investigated some aspects of information transfer between the visual and tactile system of the octopus brain in a T-maze-experiment. We are also studying the circadian rhythms of our experimental animals. Another line of investigation is exploratory behavior in Octopus vulgaris to compare it with vertebrate groups and to find out whether the behavioral category of "play" has evolved in these animals.

Exploratory behavior: the octopus investigates a LEGO-toy object T-maze test: the octopus finds its way towards the food in a plexiglass T-maze with one arm only Eye-dominance: the octopus investigates its frontal environment predominantly with one preferred eye