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Exploration and Habituation in Intact Free Moving Octopus vulgaris

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license
Abstract

Despite the huge numbers of studies published on the learning of cephalopod mollusks, studies on non-associative learning are scarce. We tested non-associative learning (habituation) and exploration in Octopus vulgaris in two different studies using a prey-shaped object (Study A) and inanimate objects and food objects (Study B). Study A consisted of the repeated presentation of a prey-like stimulus, which 23 subjects could only explore visually. In study B, 14 octopuses were presented two Lego blocks (one black and white with a smooth surface, one a blue "snowflake" with a rough surface) and two food items, one preferred (clams) and one non-preferred (mussels) inside their home tanks. As hunger is a motivational factor for exploratory behavior, different levels of food satiation (feeding 2h or 24 h prior to experiments) were tested. Within trial habituation was clearly documented in both experiments. In study A across trials habituation was found for all animals, whereas it was only significant in 5 animals in Study B.

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