From preprint server BioRxiv:
No evidence for general intelligence in a fish
Melisande Aellen, Judith M. Burkart, Redouan Bshary
This article is a preprint and has not been certified by peer review
Differences in human general intelligence or reasoning ability can be quantified with the psychometric factor g, because individual performance across cognitive tasks is positively correlated. g also emerges in mammals and birds, is correlated with brain size and may similarly reflect general reasoning ability and behavioural flexibility in these species. To exclude the alternative that these positive cross-correlations may merely reflect the general biological quality of an organism or an inevitable by-product of having brains it is paramount to provide solid evidence for the absence of g in at least some species. Here, we show that wild-caught cleaner fish Labroides dimidiatus, a fish species otherwise known for its highly sophisticated social behaviour, completely lacks g when tested on ecologically non-relevant tasks. Moreover, performance in these experiments was not or negatively correlated with an ecologically relevant task, and in none of the tasks did fish caught from a high population density site outperform fish from a low-density site. g is thus unlikely a default result of how brains are designed, and not an automatic consequence of variation in social complexity. Rather, the results may reflect that g requires a minimal brain size, and thus explain the conundrum why the average mammal or bird has a roughly 10 times larger brain relative to body size than ectotherms. Ectotherm brains and cognition may therefore be organized in fundamentally different ways compared to endotherms.