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Experiment: Fish can be counted - WELT

Experiment: Fish can be counted – WELT

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Fish can calculate positive and minus

Blue Malawian Straw, Blue Malawian Straw, Blue Malawian Fish, Blue Malawian Fish, Straw Zebra (Maylandia Zebra, Zebra Pseudotropheus, Metriaclima Zebra), Swimming |  Zebra mbuna, zebra monkey (Maylandia zebra, Pseudotropheus zebra, Metriaclima zebra), swimming

The experiment was conducted using Malawian blue tilapia

Source: picture alliance / blickwinkel / F. Hecker

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Three plus one equals four – not a difficult math problem, at least not for humans. Now an experiment shows that fish can also solve it. However, the question of utility arises.

FThe nest is reliable. At least in the number range from one to five, they can add and subtract “one,” as experiments with tilapia and rays have shown. Not only humans, other primates and the birds So simple arithmetic problems can be calculated and solved, as well as invertebrates such as honeybees and spiders as well as fish, write the researchers led by Vera Schlussel from the University of Bonn. In “Scientific Reports”.

As for honeybees, it has been shown some time ago that they can use the color code system can add and subtract. Scientists led by Key have now conducted similar experiments with Malawian blue tilapia (Pseudotropheus zebra) and peacock-eyed stingray (Potamotrygon motoro): the rays swam in a pool and a card with a certain number of colored symbols appeared in each experiment. Blue indicates “add one”, and yellow means “subtract one”.

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The animals then had to swim through an opening and then into one of two separate areas at the back of the pond to receive a reward. The two regions were marked with another card that showed either the right or wrong solution to the arithmetic problem described earlier. So, if the fish initially sees two blue symbols (“Add one”), it must swim to the area marked with three symbols.

A card with two or four symbols indicates an incorrect solution. With tilapia, the experimental setup was different, but the principle was the same.

HANDOUT - Experimental setup for stingrays.  1) starting box, 2) experimental area, 3) guillotine door, 4) door with test stimulus, 5) decision zones, 6) choice of stimulus cards.  Credit: Schluessel et al.  (2022).  CAUTION: Free for editorial use only in connection with study reporting if credit is given: Schluessel et al.  (2022) Photo: Schluessel et al.  (2022)

This is what the experimental setup looked like

Source: Schluessel et al. (2022)

The scientists reported that six of the eight cichlids and three of the eight rays studied learned to correctly associate the colors blue and yellow with the associated mathematical tasks. So tilapia learned to calculate faster than rays, and a larger part of the tilapia group could perform the calculations. On the other hand, single rays in the calculation performed better than individual tilapia, so they correctly solved more tasks. Basically, the fish found addition tasks easier than subtraction tasks.

Overall, the tilapia was correct in 296 attempts out of 381—a 78 percent hit rate. Radiology got a score of 94 percent (169 of 180 correct assignments). When subtracted, tilapia had an infection rate of 69 percent and rays of 89 percent.

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Through the tests, the researchers ruled out that the fish simply chose the slots with more or fewer symbols, but added or subtracted exactly “one.” They also examined and ruled out the potential impact of token size on computing power.

The results are surprising, the researchers wrote, in that fish have no immediate survival benefit from being able to calculate, at least that’s unknown. There may be previously unknown behaviors that depend on such computational abilities. However, the fact that not all fish can be counted indicates that ability is not particularly important for animals. It may be useful under certain conditions, but its absence is not a disadvantage either.

Rather, it is doubtful, given the abilities demonstrated, that there is still talk of “primitive” or “inferior” animal species. It is clear that a large and organized brain is not necessary for solving complex cognitive tasks. “It seems clear that fish, their cognitive abilities, and their place as a sentient animal urgently need to be reconsidered, particularly in light of the harmful human threats fish face on a daily basis.”

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