Peripheral injury induces long-term sensitization of defensive responses to visual and tactile stimuli in the squid Loligo pealeii, Lesueur 1821. Academic Article uri icon


  • Survivable injuries are a common yet costly experience. The ability to sense and respond to noxious stimuli is an almost universal trait, and prolonged behavioral alterations, including sensitization to touch and other stimuli, may function to ameliorate fitness costs associated with injury. Cephalopods can modify their behavior by learned association with noxious electric shock, but non-associative alterations of behavioral responses after tissue injury have not been studied. The aim of this study was to make the first systematic investigations in any cephalopod of behavioral responses and alterations elicited by explicit, minor injury. By testing responsiveness in the longfin squid, Loligo pealeii, to the approach and contact of an innocuous filament applied to different parts of the body both before and after injury to the distal third of one arm, we show that a cephalopod expresses behavioral alterations persisting for at least 2 days after injury. These alterations parallel forms of nociceptive plasticity in other animals, including general and site-specific sensitization to tactile stimuli. A novel finding is that hyper-responsiveness after injury extends to visual stimuli. Injured squid are more likely to employ crypsis than escape in response to an approaching visual stimulus shortly after injury, but initiate escape earlier and continue escape behaviors for longer when tested from 1 to 48 h after injury. Injury failed to elicit overt wound-directed behavior (e.g. grooming) or change hunting success. Our results show that long-lasting nociceptive sensitization occurs in cephalopods, and suggest that it may function to reduce predation risk after injury.

publication date

  • October 1, 2011