Discovering octopus cognition through virtual crabs


The cognitive abilities of one of the most “alien” creatures, the octopus, are relatively unknown. Does an octopus have attention? Working memory? Consciousness? Prof. Peter Tse’s research lab asked us to design an intuitive and easily navigable interface so that users who lack technical skills required to run the current program in Unity3D, such as his graduate and undergraduate researchers, can run the experiments.


Projected animations are used to test the capabilities and limitations of octopi working memory. If octopi can intentionally track objects (virtual crustaceans in a controlled seascape environment) in a video projected onto the side of an aquarium, researchers can draw some clues about the capabilities and limitations of octopi working memory. The DALI team created a single platform in Unity3D that allows researchers to create these videos while in the lab. The GUI abstracts functionality into a user-friendly menu that makes it easy to tweak videos based on the experiment.

Partner: Dartmouth Professor Tse

Team Members: Adam Rinehouse ‘19, Zeke Baker ‘20, Annie Ke ’19, Jon Gonzalez ’18, Cat Zhao ’20, Lucy Li ’19, Katie Goldstein ’20