Living in our earth for almost 296 million years, Octopus is one of the world’s oldest organisms. Often, because of their wonderful and unique form and size, people call them as alien. Although people say this just because of their amazing form, but in fact, the octopus has some such characteristics, which separates them from all other living organisms on earth as if they are out of this world. And such another quality of octopus that has come out recently, is that the arms of octopus are capable of making decisions without getting input from their brains.
How amazing and strange it is, isn’t it?
A team of researchers, done research on Live Giant Pacific Octopus (Antroctopus Dufflini) and East Pacific Red Octopus (Octopus Rubencans), has found that these octopuses contain approximately 500 million neurons, of which approximately 350 million are on the clusters present on their arms, known as ganglia. They give a quick reaction time to the octopus since sensory information always keeps flowing.
Instead of a centralized nervous system, two-thirds neurons of an octopus are spread throughout the body, distributed among its arms. And in this recent research, it came to light that those neurons are capable of making decisions independently without getting input from the brain.
“The octopus’ arms have a neural ring that bypasses the brain, and so the arms can send information to each other without the brain being aware of it,” Sivitilli said. “So while the brain isn’t quite sure where the arms are in space, the arms know where each other are and this allows the arms to coordinate during actions like crawling locomotion.”
To study movements of octopus, the researchers team gave interesting, new things to investigate, such as textured rocks, cinder blocks, puzzle mazes with food inside and Legos. Through this, they were looking for ways that tell them that how the nervous system of octopus works among the arms as the animal communicates for a job or responds to new stimuli, it was also monitored that which activities of the octopus are being controlled by its arms(independently), and which are managed from brain Inputs.
To tracking How do arms work together in sync, suggest direction from the brain, or asynchronously, suggest independent decisions in each appendage, the researchers team used camera and computer(neural recording techniques). And in this observation, the researchers team found that when the octopus’s suckers obtain sensory and motor information from their environment, the neurons that are in the arms of octopus can process it and make the decision, without getting any input from the brain.
“You’re seeing a lot of little decisions being made by these distributed ganglia, just by watching the arm move, so one of the first things we’re doing is trying to break down what that movement actually looks like, from a computational perspective,” Gire said. “What we’re looking at, more than what’s been looked at in the past, is how sensory information is being integrated in this network while the animal is making complicated decisions,” also added.
This research has been presented at the 2019 Astrobiology Science Conference. Hopefully now you may have understood, that arms of octopus are capable of making decisions without getting input from their brains, still, if you have any questions regarding this research so you can ask us in the comments section.