Department of Linguistics
University of Southern California
Octopus have about a million sacs of proteins of 3 colors on their skin, and each of these sacs can be opened via a system of radial muscles, making the sac visible, or closed via muscle relaxation, making the sac invisible.. The activity of the neural network operating these muscles can be seen by the eyes of other animals, since an octopus can generate a variety of patterns, such as spots, stripes, camouflage, and even traveling waves through the coordination of the millions of neurons controlling the million sacs. And the octopus can do this on a sub-second scale. How does an animal control the coordinated acton of millions of interconnected neurons? This is of course a very general question applicable to many other neural systems. But the visibility of the neural activity in terms of quantifiable graphic patterns allows easier access to the answer. This paper will report on a dynamical systems analysis that predicts the existing known repertoire of commonly occurring octopus body patterns.