Six fish were able to navigate a room in search of targets with ‘high level of success’ in new study
Israeli scientists have built a “Fish Operated Vehicle” (FOV) and claim to have trained six goldfish to move it around. According to them, the experiment shows that navigational skills can transfer between different environments.
In the Behavioural Neuroscience journal this month, the study involved the placement of the fish into a large water tank. This robot was attached to a motor-tracking cam and then hooked up to the motion tracking camera. A computer program developed to respond to its movement towards the tank’s walls then moved the FOV into the respective direction.
Ben-Gurion University researchers discovered that the goldfish was able to navigate the vehicle in a 3-by-4 meter space in search of a reward food pellet. Their abilities gradually increased. “all while avoiding dead-ends and correcting location inaccuracies,”This was the work of the entire team.
Fish were capable of performing the same task regardless of where they were placed in the room or if the target was moved or decoys had been set up. The trials took 30 minutes but some fish found their targets within a matter of seconds as the experiment went on.
Team members recorded how many times fish reached their target, the time it took and the distance they traveled. The fish were at their target by the end of the session. “exhibited control of the FOV and a high level of success.”
These results indicate that “navigational ability is universal rather than specific to the environment,”The researchers added that this supports the hypothesis of space representation and navigation skills “possess a universal quality” across species.
The fish were tasked to “drive” the vehicle towards a visual target in the terrestrial environment, which was observable through the walls of the tank. In fact, the fish were able explore the terrestrial environment while correcting errors and avoiding dead-ends. pic.twitter.com/RxPuzFbxkE
— Ronen Segev (@ronen_segev) January 3, 2022
“The way space is represented in the fish brain and the strategies it uses may be as successful in a terrestrial environment as they are in an aquatic one,”The team added that the goldfish might have been the “cognitive ability to learn a complex task in an environment completely unlike the one they evolved in.”
They shared videos and instructions for building mobile fish tanks via GitHub. In 2014, a team of Dutch computer scientists designed a similar goldfish-at-the-wheel apparatus that was apparently intended to “liberate fish all over the world.”
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