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Jennifer Mather, What is in an octopus's mind?

Abstract

Mather’s target article aligns with a common tendency of granting the octopus a mind or consciousness. But what is the meaning of an octopus’s mind? Is it part of nature or is it observer-dependent, imputed to satisfy our own psychological needs? In this commentary, I build on my own experience with octopuses to challenge the notion that we can conclusively attribute a mind to an animal; and I question the scientific usefulness of doing so.

Author Biography

Yoram Gutfreund, Associate Professor of Neurobiology at the Faculty of Medicine of the Technion, specializes in Neuroethology, the comparative study of the neural basis of animal behavior. His current research focuses on attention behavior in birds. In the past, he studied motor control of the octopus’s flexible arms. Website


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