Forscher des Max Planck Instituts und der Goethe Uni haben eine Technik entwickelt, um die Neurobiologie von Tintenfischen anhand ihrer Tarn-Pixel auf der Haut zu analysieren. So ein bisschen wie Tintenfischhirnlesen aus Tentakeltarnung.
To camouflage, cuttlefish do not match their local environment pixel by pixel. Instead, they seem to extract, through vision, a statistical approximation of their environment, and use these heuristics to select an adaptive camouflage out of a presumed large but finite repertoire of likely patterns, selected by evolution. The biological solutions to this statistical-matching problem are unknown. But because cuttlefish can solve it as soon as they hatch out of their egg, their solutions are probably innate, embedded in the cuttlefish brain and relatively simple. A team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS)/Goethe University, led by MPI Director Gilles Laurent, developed techniques that begin to reveal those solutions. […]
“We set out to measure the output of the brain simply and indirectly by imaging the pixels on the animal’s skin,” says Laurent. Indeed, monitoring cuttlefish behavior with chromatophore resolution provided a unique opportunity to indirectly “image” very large populations of neurons in freely behaving animals.
Few animals provide a readout that is as objective of their perceptual state as camouflaging cephalopods. Their skin display system includes an extensive array of pigment cells (chromatophores), each expandable by radial muscles controlled by motor neurons. If one could track the individual expansion states of the chromatophores, one would obtain a quantitative description—and potentially even a neural description by proxy—of the perceptual state of the animal in real time. Here we present the use of computational and analytical methods to achieve this in behaving animals, quantifying the states of tens of thousands of chromatophores at sixty frames per second, at single-cell resolution, and over weeks.