Honors Projects

The ability of Thaumoctopus mimicus to be operantly conditioned to a sound stimulus


This paper focuses on the ability of the mimic octopus Thaumoctopus mimicus to be operantly conditioned to an auditory stimulus. The octopus is known to be the most advanced of the invertebrates and has learning abilities that are comparable to vertebrates in spite of their differences in brain structure. These animals have been shown to react to visual and tactile stimuli and can be operantly conditioned to perform behaviors to obtain a food reward. The goal of this experiment is to determine whether the octopus can be operantly conditioned to swim into a box on the side of its tank in response to a sound stimulus in order to earn a reward. This experiment was not able to be conducted with live animals but prior research was examined to form theoretical results that can serve as a starting point for future experimentation with live animals. Because the octopus is well documented to be trained using operant conditioning with visual and tactile stimuli, this paper explores the theoretical conclusion that they can be trained to respond to a sound stimulus as well.


Honors Program


Marine and Aquatic Biology

First Advisor

Matthew Partin

First Advisor Department

Biological Sciences

Second Advisor

Justin Donhauser

Second Advisor Department


Publication Date

Spring 5-3-2020

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