Experimental evidence for spatial learning on octopuses (octopus bimaculoides). Academic Article uri icon


  • Octopuses forage far from temporary home dens to which they return for shelter. Spatial tasks may assess learning. Octopuses (Octopus bimaculoides) were placed in a novel arena, and their movements were tracked for 72 hr. Movements around the arena decreased across time, consistent with exploratory learning. Next, octopuses were given 23 hr to move around an arena; after a 24-hr delay, their memory of a burrow location was tested. Most remembered the location of the open burrow, demonstrating learning in 1 day. Finally, octopuses were trained to locate a single open escape burrow among 6 possible locations. Retention was tested after a week and was immediately followed by reversal training (location rotated 180 degrees ). Octopuses learned the original location of the burrow, remembering it for a week. Path lengths increased significantly after reversal, gradually improving and showing relearning. Octopuses show exploratory behavior, learning, and retention of spatial information.

publication date

  • September 2000