Clifton Ragsdale


Department of Neurobiology

The University of Chicago
947 E. 58th St., MC0926
Chicago, IL 60637 

Phone: (773) 702-9609
Lab: (773) 702-2896
Fax: (773) 702-1216 Office: Abbott 221 (MC 0926)

Ragsdale Lab website



Research Summary

Evolutionary biology of brain organization and development


Research statement

The octopus is rich in evolutionary novelties, from an immense nervous system to prehensile arms to a tremendously sophisticated adaptive coloration system. It is the octopus's brain and behavior that has attracted the greatest study, but much of this research was done in the 20th century and limited by the techniques of the time. The major focus of the Ragsdale laboratory is to bring the modern advances in neuroscience, molecular cell biology and genetic manipulation to the study of octopus biology. Our first major step has been to promote cephalopod genomics. The Ragsdale laboratory, in collaboration with Rokhsar group at UC-Berkeley, has reported the genome of the Ragsdale lab's chosen model organism, Octopus bimaculoides. Current research includes comparative cephalopod genomics, octopus arm regeneration, and octopus embryogenesis, which is unlike that of any non-cephalopod mollusc and appears convergent with that of vertebrates.

The second focus of the Ragsdale laboratory is the evolutionary developmental neurobiology of the neocortex.


Selected Publications

Octopus neurobiology

Albertin, C.B., Simakov, O., Mitros, T., Wang, Z.Y., Pungor, J.R., Edsinger-Gonzales, E., Brenner, S., Ragsdale, C.W. and Rokhsar, D.S. (2015) The octopus genome and the evolution of cephalopod neural and morphological novelties. Nature 524, 220-224.

Shigeno, S. and Ragsdale, C.W. (2015) The gyri of the octopus vertical lobe have distinct neurochemical identities. J. Comp. Neurol. 523, 1297-1317.

Jiang, X., Lu, H., Shigeno, S., Tan, L.-H., Yang, Y., Ragsdale, C.W. and Gao, J.-H. (2014) Octopus visual system: a functional MRI model for detecting neuronal electric currents without a BOLD confound. Magn. Reson. Med. 72, 1311-1319.

Evolution of the Neocortex

Dugas-Ford, J., Rowell, J.J. and Ragsdale, C.W. (2012) Cell-type homologies and the origins of the neocortex. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 109, 16974-16979.

Dugas-Ford, J. and Ragsdale, C.W. (2015) Levels of homology and the problem of neocortex. Annual Review of Neuroscience 38, 351-368.