5 years ago

Fish perform like mammals and birds in inhibitory motor control tasks

Elia Gatto, Tyrone Lucon-Xiccato, Angelo Bisazza
Inhibitory control is an executive function that positively predicts performance in several cognitive tasks and has been considered typical of vertebrates with large and complex nervous systems such as primates. However, evidence is growing that some fish species have evolved complex cognitive abilities in spite of their relatively small brain size. We tested whether fish might also show enhanced inhibitory control by subjecting guppies, Poecilia reticulata, to the motor task used to test warm-blooded vertebrates. Guppies were trained to enter a horizontal opaque cylinder to reach a food reward; then, the cylinder was replaced by a transparent one, and subjects needed to inhibit the response to pass thought the transparency to reach the food. Guppies performed correctly in 58% trials, a performance fully comparable to that observed in most birds and mammals. In experiment 2, we tested guppies in a task with a different type of reward, a group of conspecifics. Guppies rapidly learned to detour a transparent barrier to reach the social reward with a performance close to that of experiment 1. Our study suggests that efficient inhibitory control is shown also by fish, and that its variation between-species is only partially explained by variation in brain size.

Publisher URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-13447-4

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-13447-4

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