Hopkins Marine Station Student Paper

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(full paper is archived in the Miller Library)

Title: Visual learning in the common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis
Student Author(s): Norton, Keri
Faculty Advisor(s): Gilly, William F.
Location: Final Papers Biology 175B
Date: June 1997
Abstract: Although many learning experiments on cephalopods have been carried out with octopus, little is known about the learning ability of a close relative, the cuttlefish. The capability of two common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis, to associate either a flashing light or a constant light with a reward of food was explored in this experiment. One animal was presented with both a flashing and a constant light and had to choose the constant light in order to receive the reward. In a simpler experiment, the other experimental animal was presented with a flashing light and simply needed to react to the light to receive the reward. Over the course of the trials, the animal in both experiments showed significant increases in responses focused on the light associated with reward (p 0.001 for the choice experiment; p 0.05 for the simple experiment).
The animal trained initially to choose the constant light was then exposed to a situation in which the flashing light meant a reward. Although a full reversal was not achieved due to time constraints, the difference between response score before reversal and response score after reversal was also significant (p 0.05). Similar experiments would need to be done with a higher number of animals (n 1) to get statistically significant results.