The study of molluscan behavior offers intriguing possibilities and promising results, although focused mainly on coleoid cephalopods. Octopuses in particular have enduring individual differences in reactions that are strong enough to be called personalities (Mather and Anderson 1993). Given a floating or manipulable object, octopuses do not always habituate to its presence but may instead perform simple object play (Mather and Anderson 1999). One can argue they have basic concept formation, both in assessment of complex sensory information and choice of motor output. Sutherland's (1963) series of tests on octopus shape discrimination revealed that octopuses had no simple rules but were instead learning what to learn. Anderson and Mather (2007) found that octopuses chose one or more of three methods to penetrate clam shells. Each method used a different effector and prey orientation, all while the clam was under the arm web and thus visual information was unavailable. These different aspects of behavior all indicate cephalopods may have a simple ‘primary consciousness’ (Mather 2007), integrating perception and learned information with motivation to make decisions about complex actions. Such a conclusion offers new possible directions for the study of molluscs.
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Vol. 24 • No. 1