How Cuttlefish Use What They See to Activate Camouflaging Pigment Cells to Hide in Plain Sight

Neuroscientist Gilles Laurent who works at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research explains to the International Journal of Science site Nature what it means when he says “cuttlefish wear their thoughts on their skin”. Laurent and his team are studying how cuttlefish use camouflage to hide in plain sight. These cephalopods are very clever in understanding their surroundings in that will use what they see to trigger pigment cells (chromatophores) within their nervous system that match the environment. Laurent is seeking to find out how this circuitry works.

The latest study maps how the animal links chromatophores together in different ways to create a pattern that mimics the geometry of its surroundings. The findings should allow the researchers to work backwards from the skin patterns to determine the pathways through which neurons in the cuttlefish’s brain control its camouflage.