Animal Cognition

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 107–112 | Cite as

The role of stimulus preexposure in problem solving by Octopus vulgaris

  • Graziano Fiorito
  • G. B. Biederman
  • Valerie A. Davey
  • Francesca Gherardi
Original article


Octopus vulgaris is able to open transparent glass jars closed with plastic plugs and containing live crabs. The decrease in performance times for removing the plug and seizing the prey with increasing experience of the task has been taken to indicate learning. However, octopuses’ attack behaviors are typically slow and variable in novel environmental situations. In this study the role of preexposure to selected features of the problem-solving context was investigated. Although octopuses failed to benefit from greater familiarity with the training context or with selected elements of the task of solving the jar problem, the methodological strategies used are instructive in potentially clarifying the role of complex problem-solving behaviors in this species including stimulus preexposure and social learning.

Key words Stimulus preexposure Problem solving Observational learning Octopus vulgaris 


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Supplementary material

An Octopus vulgaris opening a jar (MPEG-Movie 11.60 MB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graziano Fiorito
    • 1
  • G. B. Biederman
    • 2
  • Valerie A. Davey
    • 2
  • Francesca Gherardi
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratorio di Neurobiologia, Stazione Zoologica “A. Dohrn” di NapoliVilla CommunaleNapoliItaly
  2. 2.Division of Life SciencesUniversity of Toronto at ScarboroughTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica “Leo Pardi”Università di FirenzeFirenzeItaly

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