Most studies on developmental variation in cognition have suggested that individuals are born with reduced or absent cognitive abilities, and thereafter, cognitive performance increases with age during early development. However, these studies have been mainly performed in altricial species, such as humans, in which offspring are extremely immature at birth. In this work, we tested the hypothesis that species with other developmental modes might show different patterns of cognitive development. To this end, we analysed inhibitory control performance in two teleost species with different developmental modes, the zebrafish Danio rerio and the guppy Poecilia reticulata, exploiting a simple paradigm based on spontaneous behaviour and therefore applicable to subjects of different ages. Zebrafish hatch as larvae 3 days after fertilisation, and have an immature nervous system, a situation that mirrors extreme altriciality. We found that at the early stages of development, zebrafish displayed no evidence of inhibitory control, which only begun to emerge after one month of life. Conversely, guppies, which are born after approximately one month of gestation as fully developed and independent individuals, solved the inhibitory control task since their first days of life, although performance increased with sexual maturation. Our study suggests that the typical progression described during early ontogeny in humans and other species might not be the only developmental trend for animals' cognition and that a species' developmental mode might determine variation in cognition across subjects of different age.

Interspecific differences in developmental mode determine early cognitive abilities in teleost fish

Montalbano, Giulia
Primo
;
Bertolucci, Cristiano
Secondo
;
Lucon-Xiccato, Tyrone
Ultimo
2023

Abstract

Most studies on developmental variation in cognition have suggested that individuals are born with reduced or absent cognitive abilities, and thereafter, cognitive performance increases with age during early development. However, these studies have been mainly performed in altricial species, such as humans, in which offspring are extremely immature at birth. In this work, we tested the hypothesis that species with other developmental modes might show different patterns of cognitive development. To this end, we analysed inhibitory control performance in two teleost species with different developmental modes, the zebrafish Danio rerio and the guppy Poecilia reticulata, exploiting a simple paradigm based on spontaneous behaviour and therefore applicable to subjects of different ages. Zebrafish hatch as larvae 3 days after fertilisation, and have an immature nervous system, a situation that mirrors extreme altriciality. We found that at the early stages of development, zebrafish displayed no evidence of inhibitory control, which only begun to emerge after one month of life. Conversely, guppies, which are born after approximately one month of gestation as fully developed and independent individuals, solved the inhibitory control task since their first days of life, although performance increased with sexual maturation. Our study suggests that the typical progression described during early ontogeny in humans and other species might not be the only developmental trend for animals' cognition and that a species' developmental mode might determine variation in cognition across subjects of different age.
2023
Montalbano, Giulia; Bertolucci, Cristiano; Bisazza, Angelo; Lucon-Xiccato, Tyrone
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2533800
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