Weird Animal Brain: Octopus

The octopus almost reaches alien status when it comes to its brain and nervous system.  And yet, the differences can help us understand more about the human brain as well as unique solutions nature has come up with for difficult problems like camouflage. Octopuses can see polarized light, but cannot see color.  However, their skin changes both color and texture to camouflage with the surroundings.

Octopus brain infographic, illustrated by Kayleen Schrieber (@ksphd). Text: "Instead of having one central brain, almost two-thirds of an octopus's neurons are actually in its arms! These 8 neural networks operate each tentacle independently! Coordinated movements are controlled through a central hub in the octopus's head. This 'brain' is a donut-shaped mass surrounding the esophagus. What we still don't know: How are their arms able to camouflage with their surroundings?"

Be sure to check out more Weird Animal Brains here!



Courage, Katherine Harmon. “How the Freaky Octopus Can Help Us Understand the Human Brain.” Wired. Conde Nast, 1 Oct. 2013. Web.

Groskin, Luke. “I, Octopus – Science Friday.” Science Friday. N.p., 16 June 2016. Web.

Kayleen Schreiber

Kayleen is obsessed with the brain. After majoring in neuroscience at Vanderbilt University, she went straight to a PhD program in neuroscience at the University of Iowa. She currently studies how our brains process speech. She measures electrical changes produced by the brain to understand how the gender of a person talking influences how we hear their speech. Outside the lab, she works to get others excited about science and occasionally plays the bassoon.