Nonsomatotopic organization of the higher motor centers in octopus

Curr Biol. 2009 Oct 13;19(19):1632-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.07.067. Epub 2009 Sep 17.


Hyperredundant limbs with a virtually unlimited number of degrees of freedom (DOFs) pose a challenge for both biological and computational systems of motor control. In the flexible arms of the octopus, simplification strategies have evolved to reduce the number of controlled DOFs. Motor control in the octopus nervous system is hierarchically organized. A relatively small central brain integrates a huge amount of visual and tactile information from the large optic lobes and the peripheral nervous system of the arms and issues commands to lower motor centers controlling the elaborated neuromuscular system of the arms. This unique organization raises new questions on the organization of the octopus brain and whether and how it represents the rich movement repertoire. We developed a method of brain microstimulation in freely behaving animals and stimulated the higher motor centers-the basal lobes-thus inducing discrete and complex sets of movements. As stimulation strength increased, complex movements were recruited from basic components shared by different types of movement. We found no stimulation site where movements of a single arm or body part could be elicited. Discrete and complex components have no central topographical organization but are distributed over wide regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Efferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Extremities / innervation*
  • Extremities / physiology
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Movement / physiology
  • Octopodiformes / anatomy & histology*