In a unique and amazing scientific experiment, a goldfish was able to operate a Fish Operated Vehicle by swimming in specific directions in a small tank that serves as a driver's seat.
Fishes and numerous other species in the wild must navigate to find food or shelter in order to survive.
However, it's not always apparent how these creatures learn to navigate a space, and whether the brain networks that allow them to navigate a coral reef would be useful on land in the case of a fish.
Scientist Shachar Givon and her colleagues Matan Samina, Ohad Ben-Shahar, and Ronen Segev of Ben-Gurion from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Israel, conducted the research.
Hey @TheEllenShow, we wanted to say that BGU can help Dory. Our interdisciplinary researchers' team (@OhadBenShahar, @ronen_segev) discovered that a goldfish's navigational ability supersedes its watery environs, even if they were interrupted in the middle. See it in the video. pic.twitter.com/knEPrEWeov— Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (@bengurionu) January 5, 2022
As reported by the New York Post, they claimed that the way space is represented in the fish brain, as well as the tactics it employs, could be just as effective on land as they are in the water.
Through the experiment, it shows that the goldfish have the cognitive ability to learn a difficult activity in an environment radically unlike the one they originated in.
The researchers compared the complexity of it to anyone who has attempted to learn to ride a bike or drive a car, who understand how difficult it can get.
Behind The Goldfish Car
The groundbreaking goldfish mobile accelerates, turns, and stops in response to a fish's movements in the water.
The miniature plastic aquarium set on wheels that serves as a submarine is known as the Fish Operated Vehicle. The FOV could be piloted by a single goldfish in the aquarium simply by swimming.
Goldfish were taught to drive the "vehicle" and navigate themselves to their destination in order to win food treats by a team of biomedical engineers and neuroscientists.
To earn a treat, each fish learns to steer towards a pink target in a nine-foot by 13-foot room.
Six different fish successfully navigated the car through the rooms to the targets, avoiding dead ends and fake targets.
A camera above the tank detects the movement of the fish as it brushes into the aquarium's walls or swims forward, for example, according to Smithsonian Mag.
An algorithm adjusts the tank based on the camera's signaling, allowing the fish to "steer" the car.
The FOV, which has four motorized wheels, moves by using a camera, a computer, and light detection technology to track the motions of the driver fish.
The researcher, Givon, explained that training was the most straightforward part. All they did was put it in an environment where it could learn about what was going on around it.
As stated in Live Science, it's one thing to get the fish to move the car; it's another thing entirely to see if it can understand the environment around it.
Fortunately, the six goldfish improved over time, and by the last session, they had complete control of the FOV and a high rate of success.
According to the researchers of the study, this research implies that goldfish can learn to navigate completely novel habitats, not only specific ones like a coral reef.
Givon hopes to investigate how fish learn to navigate longer routes in less-structured circumstances in the future.
Furthermore, Givon explained they want the fish to go outside and negotiate a natural human environment.
Researchers may be able to study how the fish make judgments in more dynamic, new surroundings as a result of this.
This research will soon be released in the February 2022 issue of Behavioural Brain Research.