Cephalopod Intelligence

Jennifer A. Mather

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199738182
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Cephalopod Intelligence


Cephalopod intelligence has similarities and differences from that of vertebrates. Both groups have paired lens-type eyes and a sophisticated vestibular system. Cephalopods have a lateral line mechano-reception system, like that of fish, and chemical sensing. The motor systems are quite different, as cephalopods have jet propulsion by the flexible mantle and lateral fins. For grasping, they have many sucker-equipped arms and two flexible tentacles. A hydrostatic skeletal system gives many degrees of freedom of arm movement, but its brain monitoring is unknown. Both groups have paired lateral brain lobes, and cephalopods have two storage areas for learned visual and chemotactile information. Cephalopods are solitary but can play, have personalities, and may have a simple form of consciousness. They have a unique visual skin display system for camouflage and communication with conspecifics. This offers an interesting comparison and contrast to vertebrates as a model for the development of intelligence.

Keywords: Cephalopod intelligence; visual skin displays; muscular hydrostat motor system; consciousness

Article.  8319 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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