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(Left) The optic lobes are thought to be involved in visual processing. In this study, researchers found that guppies with larger optic lobes more quickly learned a visual discrimination task—identifying which color well contained food. (Right) The fish telencephalon is thought to be involved in spatial learning, memory, and inhibitory control. Here, the researchers found that a larger telencephalon might enhance the fish’s cognitive flexibility, allowing them to more quickly associate food with a new color after the researchers switched it.
Infographic: Two Guppy Brain Regions May Help Them Learn Tasks
While guppies with larger optic lobes were champions at learning visual discrimination tasks, guppies with larger telencephalons fared better when researchers switched things up.
Infographic: Two Guppy Brain Regions May Help Them Learn Tasks
Infographic: Two Guppy Brain Regions May Help Them Learn Tasks

While guppies with larger optic lobes were champions at learning visual discrimination tasks, guppies with larger telencephalons fared better when researchers switched things up.

While guppies with larger optic lobes were champions at learning visual discrimination tasks, guppies with larger telencephalons fared better when researchers switched things up.

animal intelligence
Photo of a Guppy fish
Fish Brain Region Size Correlates with Cognitive Flexibility
Natalia Mesa, PhD | Nov 14, 2022 | 3 min read
The relative sizes of specific parts of the guppy brain may explain why some fish are better at learning certain tasks than others. 
bird perched next to brick atop trash can
Science Snapshot: Fine Feathered Foes
Lisa Winter | Sep 14, 2022 | 1 min read
Australians are resorting to increasingly drastic measures to keep cockatoos out of their garbage bins.
Brightly colored intersecting lines, creating a chaotic pattern that resembles a subway map.
Monkeys Look for Patterns that Aren’t There—Just Like Humans Do
Dan Robitzski | Aug 31, 2022 | 4 min read
Macaques continued to search for answers to an unsolvable laboratory task, seemingly refusing to believe that the correct answers were random and inconsistent.
Cover of When Animals Dream: A colourful illustration of an octopus.<br><br>
Book Excerpt from When Animals Dream
David M. Peña-Guzmán | Aug 25, 2022 | 3 min read
In Chapter 1, “The Science of Animal Dreams,” author David M. Peña-Guzmán relays the history of researchers digging into the mental realities of nonhuman brains.
Cover of When Animals Dream: A colourful illustration of an octopus.<br><br>
Opinion: Animal Dreaming Should Give Us Ethical Pause
David M. Peña-Guzmán | Aug 15, 2022 | 4 min read
Research shows that humans aren’t the only animals whose imaginations run wild while they sleep.
Octopus in tank lined with black dots
Do Invertebrates Have Emotions?
Natalia Mesa, PhD | May 26, 2022 | 10+ min read
And how do scientists go about answering that question?
a Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) resting on a reflective surface
Reshuffled Genomes May Explain Cephalopods’ Smarts
Sophie Fessl, PhD | May 13, 2022 | 4 min read
In two related studies, researchers describe huge chromosomal rearrangements and about 500 novel gene clusters in the octopus, squid, and cuttlefish genomes, which they say could help explain how they evolved their extraordinary brains.
an Australian magpie stares down the camera
Altruism in Birds? Magpies Have Outwitted Scientists by Helping Each Other Remove Tracking Devices
Dominique Potvin | Feb 22, 2022 | 4 min read
It was the first time a bird has removed a tracking device, and the second time a bird species showed cooperative “rescue” behavior.
Cuttlefish, cephalopod, mollusk, mollusca, animal behavior, marshmallow test, cognition, intelligence, evolution
Cuttlefish Delay Gratification, a Sign of Smarts
Asher Jones | Mar 5, 2021 | 8 min read
The cephalopods resisted temptation for up to 130 seconds to earn their favorite food, hinting at sophisticated cognitive abilities such as planning for the future.
See Pigs Master a Joystick Video Game
Lisa Winter | Feb 12, 2021 | 1 min read
Directing an object on a screen to a target provided a tasty reward.
Cats recognize their names
Cats Perk Up at the Sound of Their Own Names
Carolyn Wilke | Apr 5, 2019 | 2 min read
The familiar word elicits a twitch of the ears or swish of the tail, suggesting felines can distinguish their names from other words.
The Mirror Test Peers Into the Workings of Animal Minds
Carolyn Wilke | Feb 21, 2019 | 5 min read
Nearly 50 years after its development, only a handful of creatures have passed the self-awareness exam. A new attempt with fish highlights a debate over the test’s use and meaning.
a parrot tearing a strip of cardboard with its beak
Image of the Day: Bird Brain
Shawna Williams | Nov 12, 2018 | 1 min read
Goffin’s cockatoos customize tools to accommodate a specific need.
Biologist Who Communicated With Dolphins Dies
Alison F. Takemura | Aug 15, 2016 | 2 min read
Louis Herman, who made seminal discoveries on dolphin cognition, has passed away at age 86.
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