cephalopod intelligence


In a sense, cephalopod intelligence is a form of alien intelligence on this planet. In 1947, funds from the Marshall Plan – the US program to help rebuild Europe after the Second World War – were allocated to researchers at Naples Zoological Station to study the brain of the octopus. The results of this work, it was hoped, might help US Air Force engineers design better computers. To this day, however, cephalopod brains remain a mystery (see intelligence, nature of). Although unusually large, they seem to work along fundamentally different lines from those of primates, like ourselves. Much processing in the cephalopod nervous system appears to be done in ganglia distributed around the body. Part of the reason for this is that these creatures communicate via fast-changing patterns of body color for which a distributed processing network is essential.