How to Cuttlefish Are Able to Wait for a Reward

How to Cuttlefish Are Able to Wait for a Reward

Perhaps the most unsung member of cephalopods, a group that counts octopus, squid, and nautilus in its ranks, there is much left to prove cuttlefish. Recently, a group of six mango cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) did just that, focusing their sinusoidal effigies and the collective 48 arms and 12 webs on the task of delayed gratification before meals for the sake of their delicious food.

The trial of cuttlefish was the project of an international team of researchers to discover cephalopod intelligence, which explored less area than similar investigations for mammal and bird species. The team's research was published on Tuesday in the Royal Society B magazine Proceedings.

Animal cognition has been the subject of human intrigue since at least Darwin sent shockwaves by establishing an evolutionary relationship between mankind and primates. Scientist Ivan Pavlov and his dogs or B.F. Skinner and his mice are best known for their work, ever since trying to better understand the limits and limits of animal cognition. But recent researchers have gone beyond the questions of classical conditioning, and have focused on dogs' ability to maintain entire word banks for their toys or pigs to play video games.

"Our understanding of why self-control evolved has always been based on evolutionary pressures that are relevant to long-lived social species," Alexandra Schneel, a comparative psychologist at the University of Cambridge and lead author of a recent paper, said in an email . "Cuttlefish have not experienced the same pressure."

In the case of the last six juvenile cuttlefish participating in the study (Micah, Pinto, Demi, Franklin, Zebidiah and Rogelio, as the two other cuttlefish dropped out), choosing between immediately available pieces of raw king prawns during work Or waiting for the possibility of offering a live grass shrimp to eat, the latter being the more prestigious food. The team studying them found that after training, some cuttlefish were able to wait for two minutes for a better reward, showing that they understood both the implications of being caught for a while before taking action. Cuttlefish that were particularly patient were also quite reversible at the time of change in exercise conditions. When the cue for food reward changed, those patients were the fastest to adapt to cephalopods.

"This study of delayed gratification in cuttlefish is a fascinating one and enhances our understanding of the intelligence of cephalopods," biologist Jennifer Mather from the University of Lethbridge, Canada, said in an email. "It also reveals what we have found in the octopus, that they can plan for the future, a sophisticated capability that was previously possible in mammals and birds."

Cuttlefish are not highly social in the way humans or chimpanzees are, since the latter species live in groups that help drill some principles of self-control for the sake of the entire group. As a result, it was not certain whether the animals would be so reticent due to the free food.

"This discovery is an extreme example of convergent evolution," Schneel said. "Cuttlefish have quite different evolutionary histories from commonly studied apes, vessels, and parrots, and yet they have the same cognitive feature."

Schnell stated that the self-control of cuttlefish can be attributed to its need, as still to remain in camouflage in the wilderness, as opposed to self-control abilities usually associated with group activity for more social creatures is. The animal hides from its habitat only for food, which it does sparingly.

"It doesn't give us the full picture and each study only provides a piece of the puzzle," Schneel said. "We need many more studies before we can make meaningful comparisons between the general intelligence of cuttlefish and large-brained vertebrates."

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