Study Discovers How Lost Fish Find Their Way Home In The Ocean

Have you ever wondered how fish find their way around the ocean?

With strong currents, it should come as no surprise that fish are often pushed off course which begs the question: How do they return home without getting lost?

Photo: Pexels/Hung Tran

As it turns out, a recent study explored that question and the answer appears to lie in the brain!

The study, “Zebrafish Neuroscience: Using Artificial Neural Networks to Help Understand Brains,” was published in the journal Current Biology.

Photo: Flickr/Oregon State University License: CC BY-SA 2.0

According to a EurekaAlert! press release, the study’s co-author Dr. Misha Ahrens explained that the discovery could tie into the workings of the ancient brain and possibly relate to humans. He said, “We think it might underlie higher order hippocampal circuits for exploration and landmark-based navigation.”

Dr. En Yang and the other researchers used a “whole imaging” technique to gather data on the fish’s brains as they were pushed off course and had to recorrect.

Photo: Flickr/NICHD License: CC BY 2.0

The study focused on zebrafish and found certain pathways at the back of their brains could help them regain their bearings. Interestingly, when researchers blocked those pathways, the fish proved unable to find their original location when pushed off-course.

In the press release, Dr. Yang said: “We found the fish is trying to calculate the difference between its current location and its preferred location and uses this difference to generate an error signal. The brain sends that error signal to its motor control centers so the fish can correct after being moved by flow unintentionally, even many seconds later.

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