Recent Oxford Study Finds Goldfish Actually Have Good Memories

Yes, you read that correctly. It turns out that we’ve been judging poor goldfish all along. 

Goldfish may be smarter than we thought. It turns out that our collective human intelligence (i.e. urban legends, old quasi-science experiments, and a very convincing anecdote or two) might be the one that’s not so clever – not poor, misaligned Nemo over there.

Goldfish go to new lengths

In the latest news, a team of researchers from Oxford University has trained nine little fishies to do a lap of a pool totaling a distance of 140cm overall, so they could nab a tasty treat at the end. Yes, this means that they remember they can get the treat at the end. Yes, that means that when your goldfish sees you with their fish flakes, they may get excited because they know what’s happening.

Is goldfish memory old news? Have we forgotten?

But this is by no means the first time such a topic has been researched. A 2015 study not only showed how goldfish learn quickly but debunked the age-old myth that they have a 3-second memory span. Interestingly, this animal’s memory can be compared to that of humans.

Researchers in Spain discovered that certain regions of the goldfish brain, scientifically called the medial and lateral telencephalon, show parallels to areas of the human brain that process memory – the amygdala and hippocampus, correspondingly. And while people may have a better ability to process memory and store it for quite a while, it doesn’t hurt to busy ourselves with activities that may enhance our cognitive skills. You’d be surprised to learn that a pastime like online gambling may be one of such activities, especially since it often has a bad rap for being a possibly addictive hobby. But, if practiced mindfully, you can reap its benefits. Take online card games, for instance. This category of games can help develop your memory skills. How, you might ask? Because while gambling, a great deal of focus is needed. You must remember the card numbers’ string, color, and type. So next time you’re destressing whilst playing at your preferred no-deposit online casino, think of it as a useful mental exercise that’ll benefit your brain!

Don’t you remember MythBusters experiments?

MythBusters was a fantastic show, and not just for the number of things that they blew up or crash dummies that they obliterated. They also did the goldfish memory test thing too. In the show, Jamie Hyneman trained a goldfish to identify patterns and move through a specific obstacle course, which they then remembered a month later. A month!

Yes, I guess I’d also forgotten this episode too…

It all sounds a bit fishy…

As the naysayers say: “Do your research!”

There are plenty of studies on fish both in the past and still being conducted. Another recent study in 2019 found that fish feel pain much like mammals do. Yes, humans are also mammals, just FYI. This might not be a particularly fun fact to find out if you’re a sushi lover, super into your seafood-based omega 3’s (do krill count, too?), or a pescatarian.

Oh, and fish? They probably communicate with sound, too. So if you’re telling Nemo he’s cute but dumb, you better hope that he can’t understand you. A study into the anatomy of fish indicates that the way in which their bodies are formed indicates that they use sound to communicate. Fish, they’re just like us! Yikes, I’m rethinking that salmon starter I had at the restaurant last night.

There is still much to learn about the animal kingdom

While we’ve come along in leaps and bounds on some fronts in studying how animals and humans are alike, in others, we’re still just on the verge of discovery. Perhaps you’re against testing on animals for your makeup brand. You’ve adopted only eating free-range eggs. 

But do we truly know animals when we can’t communicate in the same language? Will we one day be able to communicate in the same language as animals? Take a look at The Woman Who Fell in Love With NASA’s Drug and Sex Addicted Dolphin for a little strange history into human-animal communications experiments.

All that I know is that science is wondrous, researchers get to do some neat stuff, and I hope that we keep learning more about animals and humans. Oh, that, and I’d forgotten that I’d seen a bunch of things about goldfish having more than three-second memories before, too. Training our brains to remember things might be a bit more useful than running goldfish memory experiments over and over again.