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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Exploration and Habituation in Intact Free Moving Octopus vulgaris

  • Author(s): Kuba, Michael J.
  • Byrne, Ruth A
  • Meisel, Daniela V.
  • Mather, Jennifer A.
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

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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