Does the ability to navigate in its environment depend on the species, or is it universal? This question has led a team of researchers to carry out an experiment, at first glance far-fetched, where they try to teach fish to drive a vehicle.
Their research, published in the journal , attempts to answer a very precise question: do the mechanisms underlying the navigation of animals depend on the and the environment, or are they universal? For this, they decided to take the idea to the extreme by seeing if the fish are able to navigate on dry land.
After a few days of training, the fish are able to direct the vehicle towards the target for their reward. © Ben-Gurion University
A device to test their ability to navigate on dry land
The vehicle is a simpleplaced on a motorized platform equipped with and you . When the fish swims to one side of the aquarium, the device will move in that direction. They were then free to explore their surroundings and received a reward for hitting a well-identified target. They tested six different fish, and after a few days the fish understood the system.
The fish are able to quickly reach the target, around obstacles and even avoid false targets. According to the researchers, this shows that the fish have successfully transferred their representation of space and their navigation skills to an environment very different from the one in which they evolved. At least somewould therefore be universal, independently of the species.