Octopus minds are enigmatic. In a research published in Current Biology earlier this year, scientists admitted that octopus brain waves were difficult to interpret. Some were comparable to human brain waves, while others were completely different.
“My Octopus Teacher” won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2021 by following one person’s quest to comprehend a wild octopus. Octopuses are interesting and mysterious.
A recent Cell research found that octopuses can modify their genetic code to adjust their brains to warmer or colder conditions.
The brain is so complicated that it needs precise temperature regulation to operate. Octopuses must protect their brains from shifting temperatures in their squishy heads in a continually changing environment. Octopuses modify their RNA to preserve their brains, scientists found.
DNA is an organism’s blueprint, while RNA is its messenger.
The researchers studied the California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides), “an ideal species for this study because they experience relatively large seasonal temperature changes, have a high-quality sequenced genome, and a comprehensive map of editing sites across their neural transcriptome has been constructed.”
This study on octopus brain RNA, like the one on brain waves earlier this year, raises more questions than it answers. These alterations happen within hours, but the cause is unknown.
“Is temperature-dependent RNA editing used for acclimation, or is it simply a byproduct of the temperature changes?” the scientists ask. “A detailed examination of how recoding events affect protein function can provide critical data to answer this question.”
They concluded that “due to the extraordinarily large number of temperature-sensitive events,” they predict that this RNA changing “is widespread across neurophysiological processes.” It will be intriguing to learn if RNA editing can adapt to other physical changes.”
These questions may illuminate how cephalopods evolved.
“This study shows for the first time that in the same organism, under different conditions, it expresses different proteins from the same gene,” said Tel Aviv University physicist Eli Eisenberg. “And they have different functional behavior that is presumably suited to the external temperature.”
The station asked San Francisco State University neurobiologist Robyn Cook “what types of behaviors are affected by these different types of changes — their reaction speeds, their ability to camouflage.”
Octopus minds have many more secrets. Scientists found sluggish, protracted oscillations with significant amplitudes in octopus brain waves. Even worse, the scientists were unable to correlate any individual waves to octopus actions, making it difficult to determine cause-and-effect.
However, a 2021 research on octopus brains discovered surprising parallels to human brains. They found, among other things, that octopus brains had numerous folds, a physical property that brains acquire during gyrification, even though this trait is normally associated with mammals and other sophisticated animals that need to retain a lot of information.
Octopuses are highly curious. Scientists and nature lovers discovered this by observing them.
“With such a highly intelligent creature, it’s likely to get bored,” Pippa Ehrlich, co-director of “My Octopus Teacher,” told Salon in 2021. “It’s odd. It wants fun. It’s fully liquid and soft.
It has little physical protection other than being able to hide in tight crevices, but its liquid adds this remarkable inventiveness that these creatures have evolved through time to welcome predators and grab prey.”