A test of a theory of shape discrimination in Octopus Vulgaris Lamarck


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Abstract

It was hypothesized that “shapes are classified in the nervous system of the octopus by analyzing shapes into their vertical extents at different points along the horizontal axis and into their horizontal extents at different points along the vertical axis.” Discrimination between pairs of shapes was best when the objects differed in both orientation and number of points. A difference in orientation (horizontal vs. vertical) was more readily discriminated than a difference in number of points. When the shapes differed neither in number of points nor general orientation discrimination was at the chance level. Transfer occurred to larger and smaller shapes. “A further finding … [was that] animals trained to attack shapes with points oriented vertically and not to attack shapes with points oriented horizontally performed better than animals trained to attack shapes with points oriented horizontally.” The results were considered to give partial support to the theory but also to indicate that “some additional system of shape classification is at work in the octopus's brain.” From Psyc Abstracts 36:01:1EJ35S. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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