Hi from New York

robyn

Vampyroteuthis
Supporter
#1
Hi everyone. I came across this site while I was searching for some papers, and decided to join. I am a PhD student from NY, but originally I'm from Melbourne in Australia.

I work with Chambered Nautiluses, looking at their neurobiology and behaviour. My dissertation is on learning mechanisms and memory storage in Nautilus, (interesting because of their relatively simple brain, compared with coleoids).

I have posted a couple of pictures of the kids (my lab animals) in the Cephalopod Species Images section.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi. great site!
 

monty

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Supporter
#3
:welcome: I'd love to hear about your experiments, results, observations and everything. Where are you working in NY?
What kinds of learning tasks are you giving the nautiluses? I had the impression that they were not very responsive animals, so I'd think it'd be hard to study memory and learning since they're fairly passive... have you found a way to train them? Or found a good stimulus/response that shows some learning-based behavior modification?

Of course, if this is still early research and you don't want to get "scooped," I can sit patiently until you publish, but so many questions come to mind from your hints that I had to ask!
 

corw314

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator
#6
:welcome: From me too! Our local aquarium, Jenkinsons had a chambered nautilus for a really long time. Unfortunately last time I was there, he had passed but I think they had him for 10 years or so. I swear, if he knew you were really looking at him, he'd come to the front of the tank and watch, but bring out the camera, and he retreated to the back of the tank. I think they are pretty smart and would also be interested to hear of your experience with them.

Carol
 

robyn

Vampyroteuthis
Supporter
#8
Hi everyone. Thanks for the welcomes! Its nice to find some like-minded cephy people in the world.

Thanks for your interest, Monty. Let me see if I can add some details without giving away too much (I got scooped on the first paper I wrote, so I'm paranoid now!). You are right in that Nautilus are not very responsive, but the behaviours they do have, particularly regarding feeding and food-search, are very robust, so they makes good candidates for conditioning. The setup and method I'm using is quite tricky - they're definitely not an animal that you can just put in a tank with task and let them learn it, like octopuses do so well. But they're shaping up as better learners than you might expect, given their neurology. So far I've shown basic memory curve responses (STM and LTM, with maybe an ITM spike in there too). The last stage of my dissertation is looking at spatial learning, which I suspect is going to be a far harder task than what I've been doing with them up to now. I'll keep you posted if you're interested.

Corw314 - 10 years is a fantastic tank-life for a Nautilus - they must have been taking excellent care of their animal. I have mine in a closed system here and they go about 2-3 years at the most (although they're handled more intensively then most aquarium specimens, I guess).

Well, I look forward to getting to know everyone. Thanks again for being so welcoming!!
 

monty

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Supporter
#9
robyn;86294 said:
Thanks for your interest, Monty. Let me see if I can add some details without giving away too much (I got scooped on the first paper I wrote, so I'm paranoid now!). You are right in that Nautilus are not very responsive, but the behaviours they do have, particularly regarding feeding and food-search, are very robust, so they makes good candidates for conditioning. The setup and method I'm using is quite tricky - they're definitely not an animal that you can just put in a tank with task and let them learn it, like octopuses do so well. But they're shaping up as better learners than you might expect, given their neurology. So far I've shown basic memory curve responses (STM and LTM, with maybe an ITM spike in there too). The last stage of my dissertation is looking at spatial learning, which I suspect is going to be a far harder task than what I've been doing with them up to now. I'll keep you posted if you're interested.
I'm certainly quite interested, but I also understand keeping things under wraps until publication, so whatever you're comfortable with is fine. I assume "ITM" is something like "Intermediate Term Memory," right? Anyway, I'm really pleased that you've been able to use nautilus for this sort of research, since its split from the coleoids is far enough back that it's likely to have some substantial differences from other cephs... I'm a big believer that we can learn about the general "how brains work" questions better by looking at the most evolutionarily diverse set of smart and specialized animals possible, since, say, mammal or vertebrate brains may have a bunch of locked-in evolutionary accidents, so seeing where there was convergent evolution in cephs vs where they took different paths to similar results is a fascinating area to be investigating (and I expect it can be fruitful for forwarding our general understanding for things like neuromorphic engineering.) It's often sad that a (misguided?) belief that vertebrate studies lead more directly to medical benefits and a general human tendency to be anthropocentric and xenophobic seems to discourage the study of systems in cephs and other not-too-related-to-people critters.

Anyway, thanks for the further details, and I look forward to hearing more about your work in the future (even if I have to wait for a PDF of your dissertation or something.)
 

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