News you can use: An archerfish can tell you apart from Brad Pitt (or Angelina Jolie)

News you can use: An archerfish can tell you apart from Brad Pitt (or Angelina Jolie)
Archerfish, doing what it do. (Image: Screen grab of Smithsonian Channel video, YouTube)

[Ed. – Who knew?  Apparently, no one did until researchers demonstrated it by training archerfish to spit in a tank.]

Using a two-alternative forced-choice procedure, we show that archerfish (Toxotes chatareus) can learn to discriminate a large number of human face images (Experiment 1, 44 faces), even after controlling for colour, head-shape and brightness (Experiment 2, 18 faces). This study not only demonstrates that archerfish have impressive pattern discrimination abilities, but also provides evidence that a vertebrate lacking a neocortex and without an evolutionary prerogative to discriminate human faces, can nonetheless do so to a high degree of accuracy. …

In the first experiment, we tested whether four archerfish could be trained using operant conditioning to discriminate between two images of human faces. The images were presented on a computer monitor positioned above the aquarium and the archerfish were required to spit a jet of water at a conditioned stimulus (CS+) and avoid a second conditioned stimulus (CS−) to receive a food reward (Fig. 1C). All fish learned to discriminate between CS+ and CS− within 2–14 sessions…

In the second experiment, we tested whether four new archerfish could be trained to discriminate human faces when some potentially trivial cues (i.e. brightness, colour and head-shape) were standardized.

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