Talk Brain & Behaviour

Public Event
14. Juni 2018
Main building, Room W0-135

Jaws with Brains – Cognition in Elasmobranchs

While most people associate sharks with a whole bunch of action-filled attributes, being clever is not usually one of them. Over the last 10 years we have been assessing learning and memory functions in bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium griseum) and freshwater stingrays (Potamotrygon motoro) on a behavioural and neuronal level. Most behavioural studies were performed as two-alternative forced choice experiments, in which the designated positive stimulus was reinforced by a food reward. Sharks and rays successfully master object recognition and categorization tasks and show visual perception and discrimination abilities of numerical information, illusory contours, symmetry and movement, as well as spatial orientation and memory retention capabilities. Sharks were furthermore shown to acoustically discriminate between different sounds. Results of these studies indicate that the here assessed cognitive abilities in bamboo sharks and freshwater stingrays are as well developed as in other vertebrates, aiding them in activities such as food retrieval, predator avoidance, mate choice and habitat selection.