Polarization contrast vision in Octopus

Nadav Shashar, Thomas W. Cronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


While the ability to analyze polarized light is widespread among animals, its contribution to form vision has not yet been documented. We tested the hypothesis that polarization vision can be used for object discrimination, by training octopuses to distinguish between targets on the basis of the presence or absence of a pattern produced by a 90° polarization contrast within the target. Octopuses recognized a 90° contrast pattern within a single target, when presented either on a horizontal/vertical axis or on a 45°/135° axis. They were able to transfer their learning to new situations and to detect a polarization contrast when the orientations of the e-vector of light passing through the target center and background differed by as little as 20°. Polarization vision may provide information similar to that available from color vision and thus serve to enhance the detection and recognition of objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)999-1004
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Cephalopods
  • Learning
  • Octopus
  • Polarized light
  • Sensory ecology
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Polarization contrast vision in Octopus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this