Note — Oct 28, 2018

How the Octopus Got Its Smarts

Seen in → No.54

🐙 How the octopus got its smarts

This is fascinating. A good longish read on how the octopus’ (and squid, and scuttlefish) brain works. The last, highlighted, quote below is the gist of it but I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Some researchers who study the octopus and its smart cousins, the cuttlefish and squid, talk about a ‘second genesis of intelligence’ – a truly alien one that has little in common with the mammalian design. […]

It takes serious computing power to control eight arms, hundreds of suckers, ‘thinking skin’ and camera eyes. Hence the oversized brain of the octopus. With its 500 million neurons, that’s two and a half times that of a rat. But their brain anatomy is very different. […]

So far, the octopus has revealed three big clues as to how it generates brain complexity: it has multiplied its set of circuit-building protocadherin genes and its network-regulating zinc fingers. It has also unleashed RNA editing to generate more complexity on the fly.