Cephalopods can only look like a squiggly blob of rubber strange class, but there is ample evidence that this strange creature has incredible cognitive abilities. In their latest intelligence demonstration, scientists have found that cuttlefish have been able to make somewhat sharper, known decisions, even after being tempted by some more food, somewhat “marshmallow-experiment” like cephalopods.
As published in the Royal Society’s Open Science Journal earlier this month, two scientists at Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University learned that more food is not always the best choice.
The optimal foraging theory explains that any animal that seeks food will adopt a strategy that provides the most energy for the least expense. Given the choice, you would expect an animal to always choose two easy snacks. However, as these cuttlefish are seen, some animals can apply more complex techniques that are not strictly managed by the utility, but with the ability of other brains to make decisions.
To understand how the catfish decides when to shake, the researchers placed a few small cephalopods in a “training session” where they could choose one of two rooms: one had a shrimp and the other was empty. Apparently, the catfish in most cases first go to a shrimp room. If the Cattle Fish preferred a shrimp, they were not fed shrimp in their chambers and only received a small shrimp as a reward. If the Cattle Fish preferred a shrimp, they were not fed shrimp in their chambers and only received a small shrimp as a reward.
In the second stage of the experiment, cuttlefish were seen to choose between a shrimp and a chamber of two shrimps. In the “training phase” the cuttlefish picked two shrimps in either one, as you expected. However, trainees were much more likely to choose a single or two shrimps based on their previous experience that this choice tends to provide even if it is not immediately visible.
Effectively, the researchers manipulated the cuttlefish to choose one shrimp as a choice between one and two shrimps. It doesn’t sound like much too intelligent people like you, but researchers argue that it does show some complex “value-based decision-making.” Forging of cattle fish is not guided by the simplest way – “more food = better” – but a relative value perception and judgment based on their recent experience.
As the New York Times noted, the new study bears some resemblance to the “Stanford Marshmallow-experiment”, a classic psychological experiment first performed in the 1990s, where children waited to see if they were given a choice of instant prizes or two prizes for some time. Despite some similarities to this cuttlefish study, there are significant differences, such as the animal not using self-control or “thinking of the future”, but only strong learning.
Nevertheless, scientists have previously suggested the idea of conducting a satiety survey on cephalopods, including delayed cut cattle fish. Whether or not this ocean brain is ready for the fancy work remains unanswered for the time being.