Human and octopus brains are remarkably similar


Playing, dreaming, handling objects or planning: these things apparently come as naturally to an octopus as they do to a human being. Development biologists at KU Leuven believe this intelligent form of behaviour can be explained by the fact the brains of these invertebrates develop in more or less the same way as the human brain.

Cells migrate from our brain stem to the place where they will carry out their function. According to the university research team at KU Leuven this development method determines the intelligence of a particular species. For many years scientists believed that this phenomenon was unique to vertebrates, including humans. And they were wrong: octopuses may be invertebrates, which have evolved quite differently than us since life on earth began, yet they also undergo migration.


Even so, it is quite strange that the brains of an octopus have developed similarly to our own, since they are structured quite differently and contain entirely different cells. In fact, their half a billion nerve cells are located mainly in the eight tentacles and not in the actual brain. How these are involved in brain activity and the types of behaviour they cause is what scientists are keen to find out in the next stage of the research.