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Friday, January 14, 2022


Goldfish drives fast a super car (by @sciencemug)
Goldfish drives fast a super car (by @sciencemug)
Goldfish pic by zhengtao tang, and car pic by Damian Ochrymowicz, are free images (source: Unsplash); all pics adapted by @sciencemug

So folks, four researchers from Israel (aka the Fab4), put six goldfishes (Carassius auratus) at work (Givonet al, 2022 (P)) to see whether space representation and navigation skills (which allow animals to do plenty of things, like finding food, shelter, sex buddies and so on) are shared properties across the animal kingdom, or, instead, they specifically depend on the different species, brain structure, and ecological system.

The researchers, in their study, use the "
domain transfer methodology, where one species is embedded in another species’ environment and must cope with an otherwise familiar (in [their] case, navigation) task" (P): in layman's terms, the Fab4 want to see if a fish can navigate through a terrestrial environment.
To check that, the brains train each fish to "drive" something called <Fish Operated Vehicle> (aka FOV). The FOV is a water tank (35×35×28 cm) put on a four wheeled self-propelled platform (40×40×19 cm), equipped with a pole, on top of which there are a computer, a camera and a lidar. By this control apparatus, whenever (and only when) "
the fish [gets] near one of the water tank walls and facing outwards, the FOV is automatically propelled in [such] direction" (P).

The machine, with its aquatic driver, is then placed in the center of a three by four meters room, illuminated with artificial light, and with white walls and one or more colored boards stuck on them. The colored spots are the targets the fishes are trained to reach in exchange for a food reward (consisting of a 0.002 g food pellet of the same kind the fishes are usually fed with).

Well, dear reader, in the end, the goldfishes training's success, they can reach the targets, adapt to changes in such targets positioning and overall overcome the "
distortion in vision due to refraction through the air-to-water interface [and the] differences in the natural structure of the terrestrial and aquatic environments" (P).

The Fab4's work (that they define "
an observational report, rather than a scientific study" (P), and that needs follow-ups ) shows, thus, that "a fish [is indeed] able to transfer its space representation and navigation skills to a wholly different terrestrial environment, thus supporting the hypothesis that the former possess a universal quality that is species-independent" (P).

But this dumb blog, in the following cartoon, shows you, dear reader, what's the next step of this experimental journey humanity has embarked on.

A fish drives a car full of water to go to a sushi bar (by @sciencemug)
A green fish drives a car full of water to a sushi bar (by @sciencemug))
The car pic by Dan Gold , the green fish pic by Gábor Szűts, the bubbles pic by Alberto Bianchini and the spilling water pic by Pixa Karma, are free images (source: Unsplash)
; the fish drawing by Mrmw, is
under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication (source: Wikimedia Commons); all images adapted by @sciencemug