Recent research suggests that this is not strictly true (although reassuring, new insights show that their nervous system is still deeply abnormal). The new study, published in the journal Current Biology, looked at octopuses’ central nervous system and found that their arms did not function centrally independently of the brain, but in reality, they were more connected than previously thought.
The octopus has three hearts, blue blood, and a strange nervous system as strange as any other animal. They have about 500 million neurons, two-thirds of which are located between their arms and bodies. As they are said to have nine brains – one in the shape of a donut in their head and eight “mini-brains” in each tent – which led some scientists to wonder if the weapons effectively have “own minds”? This can function independently of the central brain.
Studies make it clear that octopus arms do not behave completely independently of the central brain – there is a flow of information between the peripheral and the central nervous system. We’re talking about an octopus with nine brains, rather than an octopus with eight brains, “said Dr. Tamar Gutnick, a researcher in the science department at Okinawa Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan, in a statement.
Studies have shown that five out of six octopuses have finally learned the right way to press or unroll their arms through the labyrinth to get food. Most importantly, they can successfully navigate the maze using weapons that have not been used before. This process of learning shows that tents need a central brain and that they are not behaving autonomously as their own minds, the researchers say.
The labyrinth has a Y-shaped pipe so that the octopus can drop right or left to find food rewards. If they get the right tube they can find the food, but if they enter the wrong tube, the food is stuck with a net and the scientists remove the maze.
“We conclude that although octopus arms have a great ability to function independently, they also allow the organism to behave in a fully integrated, purposeful manner, under central control.” “The octopus’ brain is so different – it’s still really a black box for us,” concludes Dr. Gutnick. “There’s so much more to learn.”