Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 201, Issue 9, pp 947–956 | Cite as

The vertical lobe of cephalopods: an attractive brain structure for understanding the evolution of advanced learning and memory systems

  • T. Shomrat
  • A. L. Turchetti-Maia
  • N. Stern-Mentch
  • J. A. Basil
  • B. Hochner


In this review we show that the cephalopod vertical lobe (VL) provides a good system for assessing the level of evolutionary convergence of the function and organization of neuronal circuitry for mediating learning and memory in animals with complex behavior. The pioneering work of JZ Young described the morphological convergence of the VL with the mammalian hippocampus, cerebellum and the insect mushroom body. Studies in octopus and cuttlefish VL networks suggest evolutionary convergence into a universal organization of connectivity as a divergence-convergence (‘fan-out fan-in’) network with activity-dependent long-term plasticity mechanisms. Yet, these studies also show that the properties of the neurons, neurotransmitters, neuromodulators and mechanisms of long-term potentiation (LTP) induction and maintenance are highly variable among different species. This suggests that complex networks may have evolved independently multiple times and that even though memory and learning networks share similar organization and cellular processes, there are many molecular ways of constructing them.


Invertebrate learning and memory Long-term potentiation Evolution of complex brain Learning and memory network 





Amacrine interneuron


Postsynaptic field potential


Local field potential


Long-term depression


Long-term potentiation


Large efferent neuron


Million years ago


NMDA-like receptors


Nitric oxide


Nitric oxide synthase




Superior frontal lobe


Tract potential


Vertical lobe



Our research is supported by the United States–Israel Binational Science Foundation (Grant Numbers 2011466) to BH and JB, the Israel Science Foundation (Grant Numbers 1425-11) to BH and the Smith Family Laboratory at the Hebrew University. ALTM was supported by the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences of the Hebrew University. We thank Jenny Kien for editorial assistance and suggestions. All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Shomrat
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. L. Turchetti-Maia
    • 1
  • N. Stern-Mentch
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. A. Basil
    • 3
  • B. Hochner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurobiology, Silberman Institute of Life SciencesThe Hebrew UniversityJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.School of Marine SciencesRuppin Academic CenterMichmoretIsrael
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Evolution and BehaviorBrooklyn CollegeBrooklynUSA

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