Maturation of polarization and luminance contrast sensitivities in cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis)

Lelia Cartron, Ludovic Dickel, Nadav Shashar, Anne Sophie Darmaillacq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Polarization sensitivity is a characteristic of the visual system of cephalopods. It has been well documented in adult cuttlefish, which use polarization sensitivity in a large range of tasks such as communication, orientation and predation. Because cuttlefish do not benefit from parental care, their visual system (including the ability to detect motion) must be efficient from hatching to enable them to detect prey or predators. We studied the maturation and functionality of polarization sensitivity in newly hatched cuttlefish. In a first experiment, we examined the response of juvenile cuttlefish from hatching to the age of 1?month towards a moving, vertically oriented grating (contrasting and polarized stripes) using an optomotor response apparatus. Cuttlefish showed differences in maturation of polarization versus luminance contrast motion detection. In a second experiment, we examined the involvement of polarization information in prey preference and detection in cuttlefish of the same age. Cuttlefish preferentially chose not to attack transparent prey whose polarization contrast had been removed with a depolarizing filter. Performances of prey detection based on luminance contrast improved with age. Polarization contrast can help cuttlefish detect transparent prey. Our results suggest that polarization is not a simple modulation of luminance information, but rather that it is processed as a distinct channel of visual information. Both luminance and polarization sensitivity are functional, though not fully matured, in newly hatched cuttlefish and seem to help in prey detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2039-2045
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2013


  • Cephalopod
  • Contrast vision
  • Optomotor response
  • Predatory behavior
  • Prey detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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