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The Distributed Mind: Octopus Neurology

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 Biology   |   Science
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CEPHALOPOD WEEK IS NIGH: From June 21 to 28, celebrate our favorite undersea creatures with Science Friday. https://www.sciencefriday.com/cephalopodweek

It was in a lab full of marine invertebrates that Dominic Sivitilli first glimpsed something uncanny about the mind of the octopus. Among all those creatures, the octopus seemed to be studying me as much as I was studying it, says Sivitilli, a current graduate student in behavioral neuroscience and astrobiology at the University of Washington who works in the lab of David Gire. Together, Gire and Sivitilli study how different kinds of brains process information.

In addition to using 3D body tracking, Gires lab is experimenting with new methods of studying the octopus nervous system. In a first-of-its-kind experiment, researchers are attempting to implant an electrophysiological monitoring device into the brain of a living giant Pacific octopus. Using the conductivity of the sea water itself to power the device, the experiment will combine 3-D tracking of the octopus movements with the realtime neurological data in an attempt to decode how the animal actually controls its bodyand to what degree its arms are autonomous.


Produced by Luke Groskin
Filmed by Ryan Hawk
Edited by Erika Sutter
Music by Audio Network
Additional Footage and Stills by Dominic Sivitilli and David Gire

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