Octo-Brains

Two-thirds of an octopus’s “brains” are spread throughout its arms, which makes it an intriguing model for scientists studying the human brain:

The octopus’s unusual neuronal layout allows it eight individual, flexible arms to act and carry out instructions on their own — and in coordination with one another. That means the central brain doesn’t have to be bothered with small, continuous signals from and directions to each of the suckers. They’re operating on their own volition, a fascinating alternative to our own jointed, head-directed limbs.

And it’s not just brain researchers who are learning from octopuses; one scientist has advised the military about ways of replicating this capability for troop and command structures, and roboticists are trying to figure out how to instill this sort of “embodied intelligence” into their bots. As one researcher puts it, the octopus is like the Internet, whereas we are stuck with individual CPUs.

Previous Dish on the wonders of the octopus here, here, here, and here.