Article

Cephalopod Nervous System Organization

Z. Yan Wang and Clifton W. Ragsdale

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Neuroscience


Published online May 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780190264086 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264086.013.181

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Over 700 species of cephalopods live in the Earth’s waters, occupying almost every marine zone, from the benthic deep to the open ocean to tidal waters. The greatly varied forms and charismatic behaviors of these animals have long fascinated humans. Cephalopods are short-lived, highly mobile predators with sophisticated brains that are the largest among the invertebrates. While cephalopod brains share a similar anatomical organization, the nervous systems of coleoids (octopus, squid, cuttlefish) and nautiloids all display important lineage-specific neural adaptations. The octopus brain, for example, has for its arms a well-developed tactile learning and memory system that is vestigial in, or absent from, that of other cephalopods. The unique anatomy of the squid giant fiber system enables rapid escape in the event of capture. The brain of the nautilus comprises fewer lobes than its coleoid counterparts, but contains olfactory system structures and circuits not yet identified in other cephalopods.

Keywords: Cephalopods; evolution; olfaction; learning and memory; neural circuits

Article.  7576 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Invertebrate Neurobiology

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