The Fact That Fish Have a 3 Second Memory is Just Plain Wrong

Did anyone ever tell you that goldfish or any other fish only have a 3 second memory? Well it turns out that so-called fact is just plain wrong. Here is why:

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Different Brain Structure

The whole idea that fish don’t have long-term memories and aren’t very smart in general probably arose because their brains look very different from ours. And they’re often thought of as primitive because they were among the earliest vertebrates—they split off from the rest of the gang several hundred million years ago. But of course, since then, fish haven’t just stood still—or tread water? They’ve continued to evolve, and their mental abilities have evolved along with them.

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In this post, we will unveil how fish are actually pretty smart. The main reason many scientists thought fish were less intelligent than mammals is that they don’t have a neocortex. That’s the outer part of the brain found in mammals which is particularly large and wrinkly in humans, and in us, it’s responsible for higher cognitive functions like problem-solving, abstract thinking and planning.

neocortex in mammals
IMG: Siim Land

So, it was long assumed that fish just couldn’t do many of those things. In one research scientists fed laboratory fish at one end of their tank in the morning and the other end in the evening, the fish picked up the pattern and would wait in the right place for their meals.

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