Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Octopuses Have a Unique Way to Control Their 'Odd' Forms

20.04.2015

New Research from Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Octopus Research Group

The body plan of octopuses is nothing if not unique, with a sophisticated brain in a soft, bilaterally symmetrical body, encircled by eight radially symmetrical and incredibly flexible arms.


Mapping how octopuses control their movement: Dr. Guy Levy (L) and Prof. Benny Hochner at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Octopus Research Group. For videos, see below. (Photo: Hebrew University)

Now, reporting the first detailed kinematic analysis of octopus arm coordination in crawling, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem show that the animals have a unique motor control strategy to match their “odd” form. The researchers report their findings in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

“Octopuses use unique locomotion strategies that are different from those found in other animals,” says Prof. Binyamin (Benny) Hochner, Principal Investigator at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Octopus Research Group. “This is most likely due to their soft molluscan body that led to the evolution of ‘strange’ morphology, enabling efficient locomotion control without a rigid skeleton.”

Earlier studies of octopus behavior by the Hebrew University team have focused on goal-directed arm movements, like reaching to a target or fetching food to the mouth, Hochner explains.

(See, for instance, http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-04/cp-hto041306.php , http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-05/cp-hod050714.php , and

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-05/thuo-hur051811.php   ). The new study is the first to tackle a larger question: how octopuses manage to coordinate their eight long, flexible arms during locomotion.

Octopuses most likely evolved from animals more similar to clams, with a protective outer shell and almost no movement to speak of. “During evolution, octopuses lost their heavy protective shells and became more maneuverable on the one hand, but also more vulnerable on the other hand,” says Hebrew University co-author Dr. Guy Levy, of the Department of Neurobiology and the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences. “Their locomotory abilities evolved to be much faster than those of typical molluscs, probably to compensate for the lack of shell.”

The evolution of a typical snail’s foot into long and slender arms gave octopuses extraordinary flexibility. Excellent vision, together with a highly developed and large brain and the ability to color camouflage, made cephalopods very successful hunters. But how do they control the movements of those remarkable bodies?

After poring over videos of octopuses in action, frame by frame, the researchers made several surprising discoveries. Despite its bilaterally symmetrical body, the octopus can crawl in any direction relative to its body orientation. The orientation of its body and crawling direction are independently controlled, and its crawling lacks any apparent rhythmical patterns in limb coordination.

Hochner, Levy, and their colleagues show that this uncommon maneuverability of octopuses is derived from the radial symmetry of their arms around the body and the simple mechanism by which the arms create the crawling thrust: pushing-by-elongation.

“These two together enable a mechanism whereby the central controller chooses in a moment-to-moment fashion which arms to recruit for pushing the body in an instantaneous direction,” the researchers write. The animal needs only to choose which arms to activate in order to determine the direction of locomotion.

The findings lend support to what’s known as the Embodied Organization concept. In the traditional view, motor-control strategies are devised to fit the body. But, the researchers say, under Embodied Organization, the control and the body evolve together in lockstep within the context of the environment with which those bodies interact.

“This concept, which is borrowed from robotics, argues that the optimal behavior of an autonomous robot or an animal is achieved as a result of the optimization of the reciprocal and dynamical interactions between the brain, body, and the constantly changing environment, thus leading to optimal adaptation of the system, as a whole, to its ecological niche,” Levy says. “Another important virtue of this type of organization is that every level, including the physical properties and the morphology, contribute to the control of the emerging behavior—and not only the brain, as we tend to think.”

Levy and Hochner say their next step is to uncover the neural circuits involved in the octopuses’ coordinated crawling.

The research was supported by the European Commission EP-7 projects OCTOPUS and STIFF-FLOP.

Videos accompanying this press release are available for download at:
http://media.huji.ac.il/new/multimedia/hu150516_LevyOctopusCrawling_MovieS1.mp4
http://media.huji.ac.il/new/multimedia/hu150516_LevyOctopusCrawling_MovieS2.mp4
http://media.huji.ac.il/new/multimedia/hu150516_LevyOctopus.mp4
(CREDIT: Videos courtesy Dr. Guy Levy / Hebrew University Octopus Research Group)

Original press release text courtesy of Cell Press.

To contact the researchers:

Prof. Benny Hochner: Benny.Hochner@mail.huji.ac.il
Dr. Guy Levy: Guy.Levy@mail.huji.ac.il

Media contact:

Dov Smith
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
+972-2-5882844 / +972-54-8820860
dovs@savion.huji.ac.il

Dov Smith | Hebrew University

Further reports about: Hebrew University locomotion mechanism morphology movements octopus octopuses

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception
25.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik

nachricht Studying a catalyst for blood cancers
25.04.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Warm winds: New insight into what weakens Antarctic ice shelves

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>