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Visual Learning

We have developed training and testing methods derived from human psychophysics for wild reef fish. We are using this methodology to test the visual, but also the cognitive abilities of various fish species (reef fish, Archerfish). The work has demonstrated the impressive ability of reef fish to learn (within days of capture on the reef) and perform visual discrimination tasks (e.g. colours, shapes).

fieldwork fish training
Amira Parker training fish at the Lizard Island Research Station.

We were able to show that wild reef fish are not only capable of associative learning (a rewarded stimulus is associated with a food reward), but also show anticipatory behaviour (the rewarded stimulus aids as a signal that a food reward will be available in a different location). This kind of behaviour had previously only been found in humans and other mammals. Birds and cuttlefish, on the other hand, show what is regarded as less advanced behaviour and tend to treat the stimulus as if it were the food reward itself.

Collaborators and students

Selected publications

  • New York Times article on objects

2016 Siebeck Visual Neuroethology Lab
Web design: Diana Kleine Photos: Uli Siebeck, Maxi Eckes