February 2, 2023

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More revelations about the amazing thinking abilities of octopuses: 'Great diversity in relatively rare brain cells'

More revelations about the amazing thinking abilities of octopuses: ‘Great diversity in relatively rare brain cells’

The research team of Professor Yves Sontgens of KU Leuven has now changed that. The team studied the types of cells in the octopuses’ brains and literally made a map of them showing what types of brain cells were present and where they were located.

This is what the team did single cell RNA sequencing, Where one looks separately at each brain cell to see which genes are made. The researchers then compared these with the genes that are active in the brain cells of fruit flies and mice.

It’s no surprise that octopus brain cells exhibit typical neuronal and glia characteristics as we know them in fruit flies and mice. Glial cells are cells in the nervous system that provide support and nutrition to nerve cells, or neurons.

“What’s surprising is the large number of different types of brain cells. What makes our cerebral cortex large is not the number of different cell types, but the large number of cells for each type. With octopuses it’s the other way around: their huge brains,” said doctoral researcher and first author of the study Ruth Steffals. It has a greater diversity of relatively rare cells.

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