The whole dang conference is available in one giant 8 hour video, and here it is.
That’s kind of indigestibly huge, so I’ve been going at it in small pieces. I started with Gabrielle Winters at about 5 hours in, with Cephalopod Neurogenomics: Insights into the Evolution of Complex Brains, just because that’s what I’m most interested in. It’s a conference for general audiences, so it starts off with a good basic overview of cephalopods and neuroscience and molecular biology, and then, just as it starts getting interesting, the sound cuts out at 15 minutes…and doesn’t resume for another 15 minutes. Aaargh. You’ll have to get the sense of it from the slide text, and I guess I’ll have to wait for the paper.
I did get the take home message, though: cephalopods have evolved complex brains independently of ours, and the answer to this question is…
No. Cephalopods have evolved novel molecular mechanisms to solve problems in learning and memory similar to ours, which is actually kind of cool. Convergent evolution may lead to similar outcomes, but looking at the underlying mechanisms will expose the different evolutionary histories.
I’ll work through other talks as my time allows — it’s actually rather nice to have a day long conference available so I can just fit it to my schedule — but hey, if you’ve got a quiet weekend, go ahead and watch the whole thing.